26 things we learnt at Wordstock

  1. Tittle is the little dot over the i or j.
  2. Charlie Dupre is the only rapper to hail from leafy Barnes. He’s called ‘Barnes’ very own Eminem.’
  3. Charlie makes ‘faces’ rhyme with ‘basis.’
  4. Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick only had sales of $556.37 while Melville was alive. He spent his last 30 years working in a custom office.
  5. A man named Ravi promised to read Don Quixote this year. Justina promised to read A Dance to the Music of Time (all 12 volumes) and Jess promised to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
  6. Justina Hart says if you’re in the middle of a reading and find you have a dry mouth, take a small sip of water preferably with lemon. If there’s no water available, bite your tongue, which produces saliva (ouch!)
  7. Strickland Gillilan, the American poet and humourist, led the way in concise poetry, according to Rishi Dastidar. Here’s his poem, ‘Fleas’.

Had ‘em.

  1. The volume of books sold in the UK is 10% lower than a decade ago.
  2. Author Preethi Nair is a gifted liar. At the beginning of her writing career she was author, publisher and publicist. She used different ringtones so she’d know which identity to assume when answering her phone. She also told her parents she was still working as a management consultant, sitting in the library in a suit for eight months.
  3. Don Paterson said, ‘We should never forget that of all artistic forms, only the poem can be carried around in the brain perfectly intact.’
  4. Rishi Dastidar wants us to use a poetic technique called ‘eyeball kicks’ to improve our copy. It’s about pairing two starkly dissimilar images.
  5. William Maynard of the Bates agency said, ‘Most good copywriters fall into two categories. Poets and killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers as a means to an end.’
  6. David Ogilvy said, ‘If you are both killer and poet you get rich.’
  7. Gillian Colhoun, launching 26 Postcodes said, ‘ My dad is a Derry man. So was Seamus Heaney. They knew each other, not through writing, but sport.’
  8. Roger Horberry told us about zeugma, where a verb or adjective applies to two or more nouns. As Uncle Fester from the Addams Family said: ‘I live in shame and the suburbs.’
  9. He also told us about, anadiplosis – repeating the last word of a preceding clause to create a list. So as Yoda says: ‘Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.’
  10. And, tmesis, where you split a word or phrase apart and add an extra word for comic effect. For example, ‘abso-bloody-lutely’.
  11. Elvis IS Alive. White House photographs reveal that Abraham Lincoln was a woman. (I wonder if Mary Todd knew.) We couldn’t wait to start lying for a new project 26 Lies.
  12. Andy Miller, author of The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not So Great Ones) Saved My Life wants us to remember that we are not as clever as George Eliot. We are also not as clever as Dan Brown.
  13. Here’s how you read Moby Dick, or War and Peace or Middlemarch – 50 pages every day and then do something else like the washing up.
  14. Before John Yorke founded the BBC’s Writer Academy there was a failure rate around first-time writers of around 82%, it’s now more like 32%.
  15. All dramatic story structures are about what happens in the middle. Act three, scene three.
  16. Beowulf, Jaws, Erin Brokowich and Harry Potter all share the same story structure – the kingdom is under threat and the hero must go on a journey to save it.
  17. Tolstoy said there are only two kinds of stories. A man goes on a journey and a stranger comes into town. John Yorke thinks there’s just one story – the quest.
  18. For 10 years, John Yorke went to the cinema with a stopwatch to see if he was right about the important of the midpoint. He was.
  19. Shakespeare plays have five acts because that was the length of the candle.

By Elen Lewis, Elena Bowes, Faye Sharpe and more… Look out for more content from Wordstock next month.

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