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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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You know when a suspense novel works because you tense up as you're reading, so you should know when a joke works because you laugh, right? Unforch, it doesn't work like that. As someone who has just spent the last two days trying to guide a comic scene to its payoff, I can tell you that the mechanics are a nightmare. Writers who've worked in comedy know that a single hair separates the funny from…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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As we saw yesterday, world-building comes in all shapes and sizes, from the epic to the miniaturised. Which brings me to the Bryant & May novels. There was a little controversy in this site's comments about proofing which has a direct connection to world-building. I base everything on known historical facts - often there are direct quotes from London figures incorporated in the text - and despite…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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Which books have created a world for you? It's not just for fantasy writers. The creator of every story has to make his or her world convincing. The most extreme examples are practiced by authors like John Crowley, Ursula LeGuin and Paul McAuley, but we all have to do it to different degrees. The world of the murder mystery series 'Big Little Lies' is a good example. Both the book and show have…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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Words can fall so perfectly on notes that you can't tell which came first. Whenever I'm stuck on a chapter, particularly one that demands an amusing situation, I read about other writers discussing their craft, from Noel Coward or the Simpsons/Seinfeld writers to stand-ups. Recently I returned to the older end of British comedy writing. A new set of 'collectables' has been released by the BBC…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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I wrote this a decade ago: ' The English sense of humour really takes a lot of explaining. It's a mixture of coarseness, camp, surreality, amateurishness, cruelty, subtlety, wordplay and dark dry wit. We don't do puns — they're loved by the French. We do like the strangeness of language (why else would we find the words 'Nesta Bough' so funny, and how could we begin to explain the dark undertones…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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After reading yesterday's comments, I quickly researched the PSB films recut from COI and GPO shorts. They seem to have started out with many musicians, who eventually boiled down to two, who became the band Public Service Broadcasting. They're appear to be British, thoughtful, low-key backroom boys who have discovered a niche and give live concerts. I found a large number of their soundtracks…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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Magic is having a bit of a moment. A new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection on London's Euston Road is called 'Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic', and looks into the neural connections between the mind and the wand. Why do magic tricks, many of which hinge on a ludicrously simple premise, still fool people in an age of technology? Most people don't want to know how tricks are done…
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Christopher Fowler
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(No spoilers) With the end just a stone's throw away, it was time to stow the thrones. Watched in 170 countries, winner of the most American awards, it wasn't the biggest US TV show ever (that honour belongs to M*A*S*H), but Game of Thrones acquitted itself well in the audience stakes. It concluded tidily after eight seasons, the last breaking viewing records around the world. But what was it…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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When it comes to sung classics I'm relentlessly middlebrow. Give me Offenbach or Donizetti over Wagner any day, or Gilbert & Sullivan, although I have a soft spot for most Verdi except 'Aida'. Despite all efforts to democratise it, opera remains relentlessly upper class, and therefore periodically deserves to be mocked. There are past pieces on this site about the British love of fooling around…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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Why? Because I'm hard at work on the next Bryant & May novel, and can't spend 3 hours on the blog this morning! Besides, the glorious weather has returned to its dismal grey state and we might need something to cheer us up. So there's that. And this. Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee not only caused outrage with 'Jerry Springer - The Musical', they found themselves with a smash hit on their hands…
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