1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Humour in Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cacian, Dec 21, 2011.

    how do you go about including HUMOUR in writing?

    I usually start with my character personalities and their names for example.

    Abigail is an ever so sweet tempered lady.
    She would agree to play all sorts of outdoors games as long as she gets to win everytime.
    Losing is not her best friend and oh she always like to be the talk of the tea parties she organises after the activities are finished.
    Her entourage call her lady Winnity
    .

    Does Humour come across in this little passage?
    Or
    How else would you do it?
     
  2. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    Not for me. I write mostly comedy too ( I hope!) The character description is contradictive. She's a poor loser, but ever so sweet? And that's all you've given us. there's not enough to create a clear picture of her.
    Sentences are passive. rearrange and tighten. add more description.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    May I see a short piece of how you would go about a character to add humour?
     
  4. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see it.

    I'm frequently told that one of my strengths in writing is humour, but it's not something I make an effort to convey. It's something that just comes across naturally in the character's dialogue and actions. When humour is forced it even comes across as contrived when read.
     
  5. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Ok
    how would you convey humour in a charcater?
    what do you use?
    Do you have a little piece in mind I can perhaps read/see?
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    In terms of calling her a poor loser, is an interesting point.
    I meant she is infantile/childish. Often children do not like losing when they play in other words they do not enjoy competitions because it upsets them.
    So I thought I would convey the idea of not wanting to lose as a trait of innocence in a childish way. #
    I thought readers would secretely smile, that they would see that/understand it, because deeply there is always that child inside us adults that we never really grow up when it comes winning or losing.
    I expected sympathy but in a fun way from the reader.
    Adults put up a brave face in front of losing but they do not really epxress their annoyance or irritability fully because they are not supposed to.
    And then I contrasted that with the fact that she is sweet tempered meaning she has a good heart and because of that her friends would go ahead with the game and let her win.
    There is hint of her enourage/ grown up being teasing but all the same understanding .
     
  7. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I don't find it humorous either. I could see what you were trying to portray - a childish lady who likes her tea parties, likes to be the centre of attention, like to win even though she probably knows they let her, and is probably some rich little society girl because of words like 'entourage' and 'Lady Winnity'. So, as far as the characterisation went, I got it.

    But that doesn't make it funny. The tone isn't playful enough to be humorous, and the concept itself isn't very amusing. If I had to read much about her I would undoubtedly start to find a charachter like this incredibly annoying rather than funny.

    If you want to make the characterisation funny, you have to use quite sophisticated tools like irony, satire, juxtaposition and allusion to other characters or concepts that are amusing. Most importantly, you have to find the right tone.

    Unfortunately I don't think it's something that can be taught. You either have it or you don't.
     
  8. blandmanblind
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    blandmanblind Member

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    I get what you are trying to say. What you have given us is a heavily descriptive paragraph. I prefer to have my humor come across in dialogue or a character's actions, but this is a challenge that I cannot shirk from.

    Those seasons' games always gave the cool, fresh exuberance of Abigail. The mastered archery, and the perfect Croquet, and even when the delightful children hunted eggs at Easter, she still found more than any of them. Afterwards, on the terrace with the other ladies, they coyly sipped their coffee and told her why "on Earth" she, of all people, shouldn't cut culture and go guffaw with the men amongst their horses.

    When she left, they giggled with insincerity, and one even said, "There goes Lady Whinny."
     
  9. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    I'm not saying what I write is massively funny or anything, but the way I try and work a bit of humour into writing is just to add a few subtle bits of sarcasm and cynicism to the narrative, which I find works well in first person. Have a read of the following:

    "So what can we say about the countryside? I suppose I can only tell you about this bit of it, but it appears to be mostly empty, the roads are too narrow and, seeing as it’s quite an affluent area, everyone seems to own their own horse. The houses are too big as well."

    This extract isn't meant to leave you rolling about laughing, but hopefully some people might smile about it because it presents such a cynical view of the countryside. Personally, I find humour works best in novels when people are being negative about something.
     
  10. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Interesting writing indeed.
    But isn't your last paragraph trying to put her down rather then bring out her sincerity in the way that she is.
    Your ending there goes lady whinny suggest mockery and that is not humour.
     
  11. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I see what you mean.
    Isn't that what you call satyre which is mean to mock rather make people smile.
    I would say there is a fine line between smiling/smiling with a tiny sound of laughter and laughing out loud.
     
  12. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    I disagree, mockery can be humour, it's just darker humour, you might say. It depends whether we are on the side of the people who are doing the mocking, and therefore laughing with them. Let's be honest, pretty much everything that is funny is making fun of something.
     
  13. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Yes it is satyre, which I find can be hilarious if it's done well (not saying mine is done well). I guess it depends what makes you laugh, and not everyone will find the same things funny.
     
  14. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    That is assuming that everyone makes fun of others and laugh in the face of mediocrity.
    I don't find mocking people funny.
    Making fun of someone is merging on teasing and mocking someone which I do not take part into hence the insults that we have in plenty in the language.
    You give someone your piece of mind or you laugh with them.
    You cannot insult them and laugh at them at the same time.
    That is how differentiate between humour and sarcasm.
     
  15. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Maybe not, I'm not sure, but you can certainly laugh with someone who is insulting someone else. I'm not saying that's particularly nice or anything, but it happens and it's a technique that writers use.
     
  16. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dark humour is possibly my favourite kind.

    You cannot insult someone and laugh at them at the same time? Yes, you can.
     
  17. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    But isn't that defeatest?
    Isn't bit to do it with composure if you are to tell somebody that they annoyed you or upset you.
    Poeple respond better to words.
    They won't respond to noise and laughter. They won't hear you so they will go back and do it.
    Words an louder then action in this instance.
    This is my opinion.

    Dark humour and oppose to light humour?
    You more likely to a get a bigger laughter out of Light humour then dark because not everyone will understand what you are being dark about.
     
  18. Kallithrix
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    Well, if you don't find mocking people funny you'd never survive in Britain. It's a national passtime, and sarcasm is our national language ;-)

    Seriously, we Brits find ENDLESS amusement taking the mick out of people, but the trick of it, the distinction between teasing/bullying and having a sense of humour, is being able to take as much as you dish out. Being able to laugh at ourselves is what lets us get away with being sarky to everyone else ;-)
     
  19. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I do agree but the context is important and you need to have been there and then to get the real gist of laughter so it a visual thing or a live thing is you like.
    In a book it gets tricky hence standup comedy you need to see/hear it.
     
  20. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Haha. Agree totally, the more you like someome the more you mock them.

    You could be right, but I thought we were talking about humour in writing, I assume commercial writing to some degree, and therefore use of dark humour (even if you wouldn't do it in real life yourself) is a powerful tool to raise a laugh from your audience.
     
  21. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pretty much says it all.
     
  22. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    A sense of humour is more refined then you think.
    I have lived in England as far as I can think and have lived and still live amongst very posh/middle class and working class Englsih people.
    Laughing at yourself is one thing but at others is another.
    The more you laugh the less you talk it does say a lot about not getting yourself cross very well int er.
    I you have something to say say it and save laughter for it is appropriate otherwise people will think oh well that is one without nothing to say for he is aways laughing.
    It is a just a thought and no I do not agree it is a British pass time either, It might be for the majority but there is always the minority who does not.
    In fact the people I have lived with would not agree with what you have just said.
     
  23. CH878
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    Saying it was a 'british pass time' is an example of the kind of humour we're talking about, which kind of proves the point. Comments like this aren't meant to be taken literally, they use hyperbole to make a point.
     
  24. Kallithrix
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    You sound like a nice person who really tries to be honest and decent and not upset people. But even if you're not prepared to hurt people in real life, you can still eviscerate them in fiction. That's the beauty of it. And half the fun :)
     
  25. Kallithrix
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    Now you're coming across as rather serious, and this, in my opinion, is at odds with having a sense of humour. Are you German?

    JOKE!

    See, I told you I was British, ergo v sarky ;-)
     

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