1. Bill12345
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    Bill12345 New Member

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    Humor in writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bill12345, Aug 14, 2013.

    I'm not a real big writer or anything but i'm struggling with adding humor to my personal story. It doesn't help the fact that i'm not a real funny guy in real life. does anyone have suggestions or tips that can help me out? humor is a must have in story since my creative writing teacher want us to do it since it engages the audience. any suggestions are greatly appreciated
     
  2. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not being a funny guy in real life doesn't really matter. Arthur Conan Doyle wasn't anywhere near as quick-witted as his main character, Sherlock, yet he still pulled off a blinder. The key advantage you have here is time: you don't have to do what your characters do, come up with a sharp one-linger on the spot. You can take days. Likewise, you can take days agonising over how to engineer comic scenarios. One thing I've found that helps is looking at the world around you and thinking 'it would be hilarious if...' Write down the funniest stuff you come up with, and use it later in your stories.

    Also, can I just point out that, for the purposes of commercial writing, what your creative writing teacher told you is total b******s. It may help you pass an exam, sure, but if you ever intend to write for the open market scrap every 'rule' you've ever learned. As an author you write what your book demands you write, and, provided you write it well, you can break whatever conventions you please.
     
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  3. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Write what's funny to you. Read books / watch movies / shows that make you laugh and dissect them, find out why they make you laugh. I think this is important because if it doesn't make you laugh, chances are, it won't make the reader laugh either. Also, in my case, the best comedy comes almost by accident; forced humor doesn't work for me. Doesn't mean the same applies to others, but this is how it goes with my writing (as well as KaTrian's, so there's at least two of us who come up with the best stuff spontaneously). Usually I tend to veer towards the absurd for comedy instead of wittier stuff because that's what I like (think Monty Python, Futurama, Young Ones etc). I think humor is harder to do well in literature than in more visual mediums, but it's possible. I really enjoyed e.g. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which also has lots of absurd humor.
     
  4. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Figure out what makes you laugh, and then add that to your writing. Of course everybody has their own type of humor, but if the funny scene makes you laugh, then your readers will laugh too.
     
  5. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Reading funny writers will help give you an idea of where to put the surprise and how to set up a joke. A LOT of humor will get added in on the edits. Almost all of the humor in my books is in the form of dialogue as the characters interact.

    Funny writers, like the following, for example:

    Bill Bryson and his outdoor/travel writing.
    Patrick McManus.
    Terry Pratchett's discworld series. I had to put "Hogfather" down many, many times because I was laughing so hard I could not continue to read. Pat McManus as well.

    To see the kind of self-effacing humor that sells very well, read non-fiction, like Jen Lancaster's early works "Bitter is the new black" and we cannot forget Mary Roach's books about science-y stuff ("Stiff" was shockingly funny and "Bonk" was so embarrassing it was hard to keep reading sometimes). :)
     
  6. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Stay observant to what's around you. Humanity is so incredibly absurd, that just paying attention will provide you with plenty of material.
    But just like comedy on the stage or screen, literary humor needs timing and rhythm to work best. Even visual gags can be pulled off with the correct descriptors.
    In addition those mentioned above (and I am SO glad Pratchett was listed) I would add PG Wodehouse and Janet Evanovich. Wodehouse is an icon of satire and farce, and Evanovich is the queen of crafting dialogue you actually hear in your head. (Check out the audio versions of her books read by Lorelei King. You'll be surprised there's only one person in the recording booth.)
     
  7. Volcre
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    Volcre Member

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    Comedy writing is very difficult. Sometimes it can be unintentional, but often you have to know what you're doing. With writing, you can't just be 'random' or 'silly' to elicit laughs. It takes some wit. Making the writer feel like they're smarter than some particular group of people can work. Pride and Prejudice happens to be a good example of this. The book is funny in a tongue-in-cheek way at times because it almost feels like we're laughing at certain characters expense. For flat out comedy, read Douglas Adams's the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's genuinely funny and should give you plenty of ideas with regard to narrative and pacing.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find, usually, that personal stories (serious ones) are too personal to add effective humour to them, especially if you aren't a funny person to begin with. It might be easier to make humorous observations in a non-personal narrative, because you can assume different perspectives more easily.

    For me, funny moments come out of nowhere, and almost always in a dialogue, sometimes irony and sarcasm but those are to be used very sparingly. At some point, your characters will have a funny exchange. It always happens when you really get into the dialogue, so work on that first :)
     
  9. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Well this is one of those things that's learned and not taught:humor. You can't really teach someone how to be funny. You're either as funny as "My idea of a joke is a four inch dick on a two-inch lieutenant."(Tobias Wolff) or "Knock Knock. Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"
     
  10. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    [MENTION=41158]Volcre[/MENTION], isn't Hitchhiker's Guide a perfect example of well-executed 'random' humor? My point is that random isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but just like with everything, there's a way, or several, to do it well.


    I agree although I've found that the exceptions in my writing are retellings of personal experiences that are so absurd / ridiculous, they make people laugh. Granted, usually they aren't shining examples of model behavior, but since when has cultivating a sensible lifestyle made anyone laugh?
     
  11. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Janey Evanovitch has some comedy GOLD. Especially in the self-effacing humor department!

    Stephanie Plum gets her ass kicked in every book. :)
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    [MENTION=53329]T.Trian[/MENTION]: I have a couple of short stories like that, they are pretty fun to write, but they are just anecdotes, not really serious, book-worthy stuff :)
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But most of the humor is in the wild, exaggerated characters Plum encounters.
     
  14. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Jazz, I get that. What I've done is create characters weird enough that bizarre actions are psychologically plausible in their cases, be they about absurd slapstick violence, strange, perverse sexual situations, or something else entirely.
    If I hadn't dedicated specific characters for this purpose, I couldn't have incorporated the best stuff because those things wouldn't have made sense with "normal" characters, they would've been... well, too out of character because you have to be a little bonkers to end up in strange situations doing strange things with strange people. That or you have to be really drunk / stoned.
     
  15. doghouse
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    Writing is a craft, as we all know. That means it can be learnt and the humour aspect is no different.

    The important thing to remember is don't try to force humour.

    Writing comedy is no laughing matter.

    There are some okay articles regarding comedy in fiction -- with which they discuss the various tools one can use.

    Something else worth venturing is at the narrative level. Using flamboyant verbs, for example, to aid comical imagery.

    Here's an example:

    Subtle, but it makes a difference.
     
  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Also, nothing stops you from implementing the funny moments that's happened to you irl into your stories. You can veil them some, but that's from where plenty of hilarious scenes and events can come from.

    Books have to be serious to be books? :(

    But would the reader laugh at the imagery it evokes or at the author's word choice? Many writers would probably prefer the former.
     
  17. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @KaTrian: Of course that's not what I meant. :D
     
  18. doghouse
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    Reader's response would vary, of course -- inevitable.

    If the example given preceded dialogue, say, then it could help add intention to the dialogue, or reveal character.

    Word choice is effective and in my opinion an exaggerated verb can be useful for comedy writing.

    I certainly wouldn't be concerned with what writers prefer to use.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Buy yourself one of those dark eyeglass rim thingies with the rubber nose and fake moustache attached. Put it on. Sit down and start typing. If nothing happens ...forget it.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That won't work. It has to be a gorilla mask.
     
  21. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I know, just kiddin' :D
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Too much like my real face. Not funny at all! Sniffle...
     
  23. jasonburkley
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    jasonburkley New Member

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    I interested sales copywriting, and I think it's better to focus on facts than on mood.
     
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  24. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Discounting am little girl in shoes copyright maximum savings
     

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