Any hints and tips on how bag myself a FP? I've had some modest success with NIBs up to now but not made the big one. What's the magic FP ingredient?
Magic ingredient for FP success
(38 posts) (21 voices)
It's all in the 'Guidelines' bit - I've cut and pasted some of it below. My advice is: keep trying, and listen to criticism and try and remember it next time.
"Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a formula for writing the perfect spoof news story: Killer headline + funny middle bit + strong punchline = Laughs aplenty. But if you’d rather complicate things a bit, the following pointers should reduce the amount of collateral damage when you spectacularly miss the target.
■The headline has to be funny or readers (bless ‘em) won’t bother to venture any further. Try and distil the comedy idea into one line. If you can do that, often the rest of story will follow fairly easily.
■Don’t be too obscure with your choice of subject. Readers (God love ‘em) are more likely to be interested in something dealing with a news story they know, or drawing on an observation we all recognise. And remember that many of our readers are from outside the UK, with the US being a big chunk of our audience.
■The story has to have consistent internal logic, no matter how surreal the starting point. You can either develop the narrative of the story or approach the central idea from a number of different angles, but don’t suddenly take the story in a completely different direction half way through. You’ll lose the reader (bless ‘im).
■Finish with a strong punchline. The ending should bring the story to a satisfying conclusion and leave the reader (bless his little cottons) ‘rolling on the floor laughing his mother copulating arse off’.
Or you could try copying and pasting from the Daily Mail, and claiming it's satire.
Take no notice of what I say, I haven't had a FP yet. Not trying hard at present (I hear sarcastic sighs of relief)
- many successful ideas connect 2 otherwise unrelated ideas, with hilarious consequences
- there are perennial funnies such as certain politicians, British habits, BMW drivers, popular TV shows, science etc
- though there is a traditional style, some of the best subs have been completely off-the-wall, and don't obey any rules
- there is no rule no.4
- start of with witty tickers & banter. Many of us don't get any further
- you'll have good days & bad days, but when you think of something, go for it
Hmmm. But I still don't get it. What's the difference? Or is an FP just funnier.
Clarky, a simple pointer is that your Jimmy Savile piece weighed in at 256 words. This is on the light side for an FP. I generally aim for 300 words at the very least.
256 words means that the week's editor has to work up your sub for an FP which can mean quite a lot of effort if he/she is to do it justice. That leaves a good sub (as yours) ideal picking for the NiB editor who can prune your sub down to the 150 word mark.
I wouldn't worry Clarky, it took me a couple of months to get my first FP I think; it seems you've just been a bit unlucky thus far. I don't think you need to change your writing style from what I've seen of your work. Just keep writing well and expanding on funny ideas and you'll get an FP, I have no doubt about that.
Oh, and if it's an FP you really want, make sure you expand on an idea fully. A 200-word article that goes down well is more likely to be cut down and slotted in as a NiB than used for the FP.
Ha. Stan: must have been writing my response while you were posting yours.
Hi Simon. Spot on! It can be frustrating when someone has a great idea but only writes 30 words to support it. No good for a NiB or an FP.
Of course, the field is open for someone to run with the idea.....
I've tended to assume that my sub's are just not funny enough.
With that as a working basis, any constructive criticism has always been much appreciated; advice above seems good to me Clarky and you do write good stuff.
You can follow all of that good advice, get 5 stars and still not make a FP with it, but maybe the piece didn't quite fit the mood of the day, or got held over and then lost down the back of the sofa and turns up a month later, or maybe the Ed of the day didn't like it. That doesn't mean it's not good though. Some people have re-subbed old ideas with a bit of a tweak a few months later and struck gold, so you never know. Sometimes there's just too much good stuff, hence the introduction of the NIBs that help soak up some of the great one liners with a few comments, or full posts that didn't quite make it, that would otherwise never make a full FP.
If you can manage to have a go at politicians that tends to go down quite well. Otherwise:
In that order.
So a sub titled 'Homeopathic Clown who eats badger bought from Waitrose to become MP' is a dead cert.
Clarky - looking at your subs - the Saville and Daniel Radcliffe ones - I'd say length is your main problem. Good NiBs are in short supply, so the NiB editors tend to quickly hoover up anything under 250-ish words.
But if you're going to stretch a sub out to the 300+ FP length I reckon it should have more than just one well-developed idea. Otherwise the whole 300 words are just variations on the same theme, and there's no killer punchline.
Practically, this means 250 words of developing one idea, like you do, then one paragraph taking the original idea on some outrageous twist, for example using something like "On the other hand, not everyone agrees with X... [lovely shockingly funny twist here]"
Mind you, lots of FPs just drag out a single idea, so I could be talking rubbish. But there you are.
Or "Chiswick" as it is otherwise known...
Wow. Overwhelmed by the generous sharing. I tend to keep things short so as not to bore or risk being accused of 'padding out'. But great thoughts for taking a sub to another level. Thanks all. Here's hoping...
Envelope. Cash. Hotel room. No questions.
I'm not saying it's right - it's just the way we roll...
MAAAAAAZZZZZ!!!! And if anyone should know the magic FP ingredient it's our first ever hat-trick WoM.
How the devil are you lovey?
Been quiet without you, and the wine cellar hasn't needed restocked for ages.
First of all you need to make sure you’ve ‘bought’ the biscuits
Polish your toadying skills
Give everything 5 stars
Tell people when you give them 5 stars
Only ever say nice things about a sub...even though you know it's shite
PM everybody telling them you think they’re the best writer on NB
Ask everybody if you can be their ‘friend’ on Facebook
Ask if you can follow them on twitter
Comment on all the comments people leave you to make sure your sub is always at the top of the leader board – it’s called bouncing.
Or last resort...try writing something really funny and hope it gets picked up by mistake
Wotcha Jen. Very fruity indeed thank you, much more so now I have ceased moving the family Maz around the South of England. We are now bedded in back in Lahndan, have found a school that hasn't expelled Young Master Maz yet and gainful employment insulting university students. All is well - what have I missed? Who's in the clique? Who is getting unfounded and unfair FP success? Who is flouncing? Who is getting me that glass of Sauv (leave the bottle)?
"I'd say length is your main problem”...
That’s a bit rude, isn’t it? After all, the chap’s only asking for a bit of advice.
My tips, for what they're worth:
- Make sure the length is about right, but don't resort to padding: every sentence has to add to the story.
- pick a subject that is either topical or relates to something that's 'on trend'.
- Make sure you know what point you're trying to make, it's helpful if there's a subtext to what your sub is about.
- write it, then proof-read it. Avoid repeating similar words or phrases. Make sure the text is easy to understand and fits the style. Then think about it for a bit, you're bound to think of ways to improve it make it funnier. Then post it when you're happy with it.
- If it sinks without a trace or isn't used, keep going! Write something else. Keep pounding away, I think the more you write, the easier it becomes and the better you get.
- Make sure you're familiar with the site guidelines too: funny headline, clear explanation of story, killer finish, etc.
- Sometimes, something you've written that you think is brilliant and hilarious bombs completely. Don't worry about it, that's just what happens. A bit like telling a joke in a pub and being met with blank expressions. If that happens, sell everything you own and move to a different county.
Only one thing I can add: remember most people visiting the site are sober. If inspiration strikes while you're on the sauce, proof read again the following morning before posting. Otherwise you'll end up like me: alone on the sofa at midnight, watching reruns of Mock the Week on Dave, juggling a four-pack of Co-op bitter with checking your story's rating on the iPhone every 5 minutes, wondering why no-one thinks it's funny I hate you all you're my best mates...
A few people have mentioned the value of bouncing ideas off others , which I've never done but would be up for trying. Failing that you could always bounce yourself off others, although that's probably not what Mary meant by "Envelope. Cash. Hotel room. No questions.I'm not saying it's right - it's just the way we roll..."
Was the 6 hour edit threshold set as 'sobering up time' I wonder?
Click on my name, review posting history, scan down to 'topics started' and you should see 84 examples, spread over 3 pages.
Read carefully, it's a thorough and comprehensive ouvre comprising pretty much everything to be avoided to achieve FP glory. Ignore the 'busty mayoress' one...that was a slip up.
Right. Done that. Just 'pre-4fun' I think so hadn't read it before. Hope you managed to get a cold shower shortly afterwards.
The above advice is all very well but if you are good enough, you will get FPs. If you aren't, you won't. I don't think you can teach someone how to write a FP. A few of the top folk round here tried to help me. I just wasn't up to it.
(This was the point at which I was planning to link to a certain Christmas FP, but it seems to have gone "Error 404 -Not Found" on me....)
Yes Jen, you were the wind beneath my wings. I never had one without you. I am over it now. Yes, really. I don't think about it any more. Hardly at all. (I am still talking about my lack of FPs and not my life's lack of Jenless success).
Ah, bless. I thought you did bag a solo?
Yes, following that great pinnacle, I then managed a follow up collective FP with Quaz, and several hundred other NBers, had one assist, and then....
Perhaps we should reform, but I'm telling you now, I'm not doing a stadium tour this time.
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