Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Getting Ready To Write

Like I mentioned in another post, I write a lot of cartoon gags about business. To help me do this I study the business cartoons in The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, Barron's, Wall Street Journal and Reader's Digest. I see what topics these cartoons cover. Popular topics are: job interviews, the dynamics between bosses and office workers, salary issues and laziness. I don't draw, but by studying hundreds or even thousands of these cartoons, I can visualize the settings that are used over and over again: Boss at desk speaking to worker, applicant at a job interview, co-workers speaking to each other about how unfair it all is. I also study the captions  and see how few words are needed to form a good one. Sometimes you can see the set-up and punchline. The caption should take you along one route and then the last word or two should take you in an unexpected direction.

Another exercise you can do is to make a list of phrases and single words that pertain to the subject. Let's say you want to write about job interviews. You can make lists of words that you'd associate with this topic, such as: applicant, hirer, salary, benefits, job security, motivated, overqualified, resume, what can you offer us?, salary requirements, when can you start?, retirement package, hourly rate, salary commensurate with experience, etc. These words and phrases can be used in your captions. Their opposites can be used as well.

One of the things I do each week is read current business publications such as the ones mentioned above. I don't subscribe to all of them so I spend time at my local library, with pen and paper in hand, writing down phrases from the articles. I also look in the "New" books section. I bring home new business books and write down phrases that are current for use in my captions.

I've mentioned that I like to write gags about eating out. The whole dining out experience is ripe for humor: demanding diners, snooty waiters, high prices, awful service, lousy food. Just eating at a restaurant and being aware of what's going on can give you ideas for cartoons. I supplement this with books I read about restaurants, waiters, food trends. I also look at cookbooks. Anything to add to my list of words and phrases. I also like to make the setting a food truck or hot dog vendor and have the customer talk to the owner as if it were a high priced restaurant.

Let me know if any of this is helpful to you. Any comments? Send me an e-mail at: Have a great holiday weekend!

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