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The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions Into the Writing of Humor
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The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions Into the Writing of Humor

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Short humor - what is it and who cares? Why write for magazines? Does a first book author need an agent? What do you mean by indirection in a story? This book answers these questions that aspiring writers ask. It is intended for those who write humor or have ever wanted to.
Paperback, 196 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Eastern Washington University Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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4.10  · 
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 ·  262 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Robb Lightfoot
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the few how-to books dedicated to humor. This is a fun and helpful read. He reprises, in places, some of his best work. He tells of how it came to be, and he offers specific technical tips.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
For his 14th book, Patrick McManus lets readers inside the laughs. This guide, "The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor," by one of the best-known and respected humorists, is an insightful and entertaining book for anyone who writes humor or has ever wanted to.
In "The Deer," McManus discusses many of the challenges inherent in humor writing, while offering many helpful hints to writers. He explains how he practices his craft. He does so by using the traditional Socratic Metho
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
This review is from my blog
Patrick McManus, The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor (Spokane: Eastern Washington University Press, 1997)
To atone for all my sins committed in high school and college English classes, I try to read at least one book a year on the subject of writing. Knowing I couldn’t fathom another serious book on the subject, I picked up a copy of Patrick McManus’ guide to writing humor. I’ve read some of his other books and always get a chuckle out of
Shirley Brosius
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
If you have any interest in writing humor articles or just adding bits of humor to your writing, this is the book to read. I laughed my way through it because McManus offers his own articles as examples. And the stories come with quite insightful commentary on how he developed the pieces. Along the way, McManus explains the kind of things writers want to know, such as how to get your byline in magazines, your name on a book cover and how to include a “recognition factor” with which readers can i ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humor lovers, naturalists
Recommended to Mike by: Brad Rauch
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
I am only going to write one review for all of McManus' books, since essentially they are the same book with more or less the same basic story. This is by far the best humorist in America...except for maybe Dave Barry, but McManus is more subtle and less predictable. If you have never read this guy, let me give you the nickel tour. His writings are collections of essays, most of which have been featured on the back page of Outdoor Life magazine for about 20 years. He grew up in a very small town ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this book from a friend who said it is hilarious. He was right. This is one of the few books that’s made me laugh out loud. McManus’s short stories have surprising verbs, unexpected character responses, and quick endings that that catch you off guard and send you howling with laughter.

The problem is with its organization. Marketed as a book for burgeoning writers, Deer on a Bicycle is plagued with Newton or Newt as a narrator who acts more as an obfuscation than a guide. Each chapter
Burton W. Cole
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
No, this isn't a book of step-by-step mechanics of how to write humor. Yes, it does omit instructions on some of the finer McManus-isms. But it is my go-to book for encouragement, inspiration, ideas, and teaching in the craft of building humor tales and adventures. My wife finally bought me my very own copy - hardback and autographed, no less - because I kept borrowing one of the library's tattered and well-worn paperback copies three to four times a year to refresh myself. I find new nuggets of ...more
Sara Diane
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
While staying overnight at my dad's house, I stumbled across this book (literally, it was on a pile I bumped into!). He said he picked it up not knowing it was reflections on writing, rather than McManus's signature humor stories. He gave it to me and I dug right in. It was a great book--the first half tells about McManus's views on writing humor, including some pointers and how he got into it--the second half is some of his favorite pieces along with commentary. A very good read!
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
My husband introduced me to this book, and I love it. It is kind of a quirky little book. It contains a lot of great stories, but is also a discussion on what makes writing funny, mixed in with some great autobiographical anecdotes. It is an excellent book for writers, but probably not the first choice for someone who is looking for a classic McManus read. The stories in the book range from hilarious to touching. The commentary is usually insightful.
Kathy Nickerson
This isn't your average book on writing. Humor writer McManus manages to keep the reader laughing while giving practical advice for writing. His subject is humor writing, but his tips and techniques are basic to the art of story. This is my second read of Deer on a Bicycle, and it probably won't be my last.
Susan Seaman
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about how to write humor, but I really just like it for the stories. Two of my very favorite Patrick McManus stories, "The Boy" and "Sequences," are both featured in this book. The writing advice is even fun to read, and may very well be useful for somebody trying to break into humor writing.
Dec 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-re-read

And as I found it fun and informative before, I did so again.
It is worth reading both for a laugh, and for anyone with an interest in writing, moreso in writing humor.

What I learned on the second time though is that McManus repeats himself. A lot. McManus repeats himself, often making the same statement two to three times in the span of as many pages or paragraphs.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
I enjoyed the characters, and their world and hope I get the chance to read the story again and/or to read more within the series.

My Rating System:
* couldn't finish, ** wouldn't recommend, *** would recommend, **** would read again, ***** have read again.
Nancy Davis
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Lonnieandmelanie Wibberding
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great book about writing humor from one of America's best humorists. If you are at all interested in humor writing this one is worth it.
Dec 07, 2010 added it
This is NOT a collection of Patrick's stories. This is a book about writing, how he got started and some of his tips for writers. It is based on workshops he teaches.
Feb 08, 2014 added it
A good read for those who are interested in writing
Academic Eric
As an undercover humorist, I am finding some amusing insights in this book.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
very clever and funny...
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I always loved the McManus articles in Outdoor Life and the compilations. It was fun to read his essays about the craft of writing.
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Patrick McManus is the greatest humor writer who ever lived. This is why.
Rhonda Rae Baker
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, memoir, writing, own
This was very inspirational and funny as well as instructional for writing in many genres...I will be visiting McManus other writings. I loved this and believe that all his writing is just as great!
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent writing tips. Excellent.
J.P.C. Allen
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great writing advice from one of American's best humor writers. This advice can be used for all genres of writing, not just humor. His commentaries on twelve of his short stories or articles is the most helpful pat.
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Jun 23, 2019
Zachary Grimm
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Mar 11, 2011
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Matt Redmond
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Apr 16, 2013
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Apr 19, 2012
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Patrick F. McManus is an American outdoor humor writer. A humor columnist for Outdoor Life and other magazines, his columns have been collected in several books.

* Sheriff Bo Tully
“I believe it is the inability of beginning writers to achieve at least a certain degree of detachment from their writing that defeats so many of them before they even get started. Without this distancing, any criticism of your writing will seem devastating, even incapacitating, whereas with the proper amount of detachment it will seem merely cruel and unusual punishment.” 2 likes
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