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How to write a novel | Comedy


Perry Barr 009

If you’re following my story of Nick and Lily, you’ll know Nick is on a road trip in a camper van and meets Lily in a quaint English village. Nick has no choice, but to help Lily when she becomes stranded after her hire car breaks down. So for much of my story, Nick and Lily share a relatively cramped camper van. They are two very different personalities. Nick is quiet and unassuming; Lily is loud and assertive. The love-hate relationship between them provides some opportunities for humour, particularly in the dialogue. This is how a story develops and it’s a good idea to make notes, especially of any funny lines you can think of.

The road trip is going to be a major part of the story and I need a name for that village where they meet. I could use the name of a real English village, but I think a fictional one would be better. I could give it a funny name like Little Piddle. I quite like that idea! I have decided that they meet in Warwickshire, where the villages have quaint names. My great grandfather came from Wilmcote; near Stratford upon Avon. I could use the names of famous places like Stratford to add realism. They could pass through Stratford for example. I have also decided that Lily’s friend from university lives near Shrewsbury and so they will have to travel from Warwickshire to Shropshire. That would involve a few motorways, unless they took the scenic route along narrow country roads. Both options would lead to some interesting exchanges between them. I favour the fast and possibly dangerous motorways. They would start on the M40 and then the M42, that would be followed by the M6, which would be really busy and probably have a 50 limit and then the narrower M54 to the A5 leading to Shrewsbury. I’ll need another fictitious village around there and a name for Lily’s university friend.

“Oh my God, do we have to go on the freeway?” Lily complained.

“It will be quicker and a little excitement for you,” Nick responded,  watching the road as he approached the roundabout .

“At the roundabout, take the second exit,” Nick’s sat nav interrupted.

“Do we really need that giving us directions?” Lily said, with a sigh.

“It will help with lane guidance, we have spaghetti junction ahead.”

Spaghetti junction, what’s that?”

“A very unusual, motorway junction with lots of lanes. It was built by spaghetti eating Italians on a work experience programme.” Nick quipped.

Nick increased his speed as he drove along the motorway slip road and carefully merged into the fast moving traffic.

“Wow, this is like a race track,” Lily responded, excitedly, “go faster!”

“This is fast enough for me, cross winds can come in sudden gusts,” Nick responded in a serious tone of voice.

I find dialogue quite difficult to write, because you really have to imagine you are there experiencing the conversation, watching the traffic and getting inside the heads of your two characters. I think the motorway trip offers good opportunities for dialogue though and they might listen to music or stop at motorway services for fuel or food. There could be incidents with other traffic on the motorway that could lead to the expression of different emotions. There might be fear or anxiety when they see an accident. A little intrepidation when they see emergency vehicles with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing. There can be humour too, we often respond to anxiety with a humorous remark.

I intend this story to be a novella, about 50,000 words. Do you have any ideas. How about Lily’s English friend who lives in Shropshire. I need a name for her. I am considering Victoria, Vicky for short. What do you think? Is it appropriate and plausible for a young woman in her 20’s? The details can make a story plausible and believable; they are important.

Do you have any ideas for humorous dialogue. I need American colloquialisms and clichés. Please write your ideas in the comments box. All contributions gratefully received! Check out the home page too for more amazing blogs.

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