Humor Week with Daniel Handler by Tess Horton

 

Creative Writing spent a week with our latest Artist in Residence, Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket. The main subject he taught us was humor, and the many subjective ways humor can be incorporated into our writing. We covered structure and format, the definition of a “callback,” the nature of the number three in Western humor, and how, to make a piece of writing objectively funny, sometimes you need to have a few boring sentences before the joke.

Everyday, we would read a piece of humor in class, a few examples including Curses From a Millenial Witch by Scarlett Meyer and SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris, and then analyze what made them “funny.” The goal of the week-long workshop was to write our own 1-3 page humor piece, using the devices we discussed in class — focusing mainly on formatting and structuring our pieces in ways other than straightforward narratives. For example, the piece I ended up writing was “A Snake Charmer’s Dating Profile Throughout the Years,” featuring five years worth of updated dating profiles of a snake charmer.

Our week of humor with Daniel Handler was entertaining and a solid introduction to humor for me. I appreciated learning about the technical aspects of what makes a piece funny, and how to use certain techniques in my writing if I were to ever want to do so. Although humor is subjective and difficult to teach because of it, I take my hat off to Mr. Handler for teaching us in a relatively unbiased way and letting everyone’s own sense of humor thrive without restraint.

Tess Horton, class of 2021

Farewell Fiction by Tess Horton

Farewell, Fiction.

With the conclusion of the fiction unit in Creative Writing 1, our playwriting unit is soon to be upon us. As much as I appreciate fiction and consider myself to be a better fiction writer than anything else, I am excited to experience the legendary “playwriting unit,” of which I have heard so very much about these past few months. It almost feels as if it won’t truly happen: I have come to think of the playwriting unit as something of the future, something I won’t ever go through, and that I’ll simply wonder about for the rest of my days. Of course, the playwriting unit must go on, and go on it will, even considering my preconceived notions.

The fiction unit has been enjoyable, nonetheless. We have read short stories such as “After the Theatre” by Anton Chekhov, “Eveline” by James Joyce, and most recently, “How to Tell a True War Story” by Tim O’Brien. Most of the stories we have read have focused largely on characters and sentence structure, both of which we have been discussing at length in CW 1. We focused on the aspects of a story that make a story what it is, for example: tone, style, setting, genre, diction, etc. After repeating this process (taking home a short story, reading it before I go to sleep, and deconstructing it the next day in Creative Writing 1), numerous times, I feel as if my capacity to analyze and understand a short story in a more academic, structured way has improved immensely. That, paired with writing three other short stories in response to given prompts, has definitely caused me to find more of a sense of confidence within my storytelling ability.

Although the fiction unit is over, I still have the playwriting unit to look forward to, and hopefully more to come. This unit has been a learning experience for me, and I am eager for my fiction-writing to improve as I grow as both a student and a writer.

Tess Horton, class of 2022