1. AxleMAshcraft
    Offline

    AxleMAshcraft Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    In my Head (USA)

    I'm not funny...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AxleMAshcraft, Aug 9, 2011.

    ...Which is a problem.

    Let me start from the beginning. After persuasion from my friends, I've been convinced to write a crime novel. To counter the intellectual mood of my main character, I decided to give him a really down-right wacky roommate. Someone funny and quirky that offsets my MC.

    The problem, as you probably noticed from the title, is that I'm NOT funny.

    Currently the roommate, Reo:
    -Calls my MC by a different nickname every time he comes in the house. And they aren't nicknames that make sense...just random male names that he thinks fit.
    -Has no personal boundries. At one point he decides to sit on top of my MC to get his point across...currently Reo isn't gay...just saying.

    What do you guys look for in characters like this? What can I add to make him constantly interesting and a diversion for my MC?

    Even if I don't end up using them, I welcome all suggestion! :)
     
  2. beaver777
    Offline

    beaver777 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    1
    First, I must confess that I don't personally like intentionally "quirky" or "edgy" characters, like that girl with the dragon tattoo etc. There's just something about them that ticks me off.

    Maybe you could try watching a bunch of high school / college comedies, since they often portray the archetypal wacky roommate character?
     
  3. AxleMAshcraft
    Offline

    AxleMAshcraft Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    In my Head (USA)
    Its not so much that I'm trying to make him this wacky character, nor do I really want to, but often I find that my novels and things are constantly depressing or too focused for anyone to really like it, I was hoping that this could be a change from that, expecially since in part of this novel I'm going to be killing people with some mentally disturbed murderer...
    the movies is a good idea though! Thanks.
     
  4. mattrjones
    Offline

    mattrjones New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Canton, Illinois
    Does it HAVE to be a wacky / funny character? If you're a darker, more "moody" kind of writer -- which sounds great for a crime novel! -- you may not simply have it "in" you to do a funny character properly. Not knocking you, either. What I mean is...

    I DO write funny characters a lot of the time -- from sarcastic to goofy-as-hell -- because that's what comes naturally to me, and I find moodier, darker characters harder to effectively write. Even my darkest characters tend to have a bit of a "shine" to them, and I'd probably be screwed if I tried to write a noir novel.

    So instead of trying to write a character that doesn't come naturally to you -- especially if you're not really WANTING to -- why not attack it from a different angle?

    You need him to offset your intellectual character, yes? Instead of someone who's funny, why not someone who's just more straightforward -- instead of trying to figure out how to get around something in an intelligent, reasoned fashion, Reo would just want to go straight THROUGH it?

    It's one thing to stretch yourself as a writer and try new things -- which I'm totally in favor of! -- but it's another to force yourself to write a character you're just not "feeling." If you're not feeling it when you're writing Reo, it'll subtly come through in your writing, and he won't be as effective as you'd like him to be, no matter how hard you try.

    That, and if the whole novel's dark and deadly, and then there's a guy running around spewing out one-liners and acting all funny, it could end up distracting / annoying your readers more than anything. Give it a try with Reo as a more funny character -- pushing your boundaries is an important part of your growth as a writer -- but if it's just not working, go for another angle on it. There's no shame in playing to your strengths!

    Hope this helps!
     
  5. AxleMAshcraft
    Offline

    AxleMAshcraft Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    In my Head (USA)
    Ok, I'm just going to be weird and respond to most of these comments I get back, just to explain myself :)

    I guess this came out wrong, I really like my character Reo, I really do. I think he's halarious and weird and he pisses of Ray, which adds another aspect to this whole thing I'm writing.
    I'm just out of ideas.
    I don't think I'm trying to make him a "Knock Knock? Whose there" kind of funny. I just want him to be weird.
    I like your ideas though, about him being more of a "I don't know why you're worrying so much about this" kind of character.
    BUT I do want to try to write this character, and I want to try to keep him this funny carefree kind of guy.
    Thanks for all the suggestions!
     
  6. Yoshiko
    Offline

    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    27
    If you don't want to write him as a wacky character then don't do it. Forget what anyone else might think of your novel - write what you want to see. If you let what others might want to see interfere with your own ideas then one day you might go to look at it and realise you hate it. If you like your story then there's a fair chance others will too.
     
  7. mattrjones
    Offline

    mattrjones New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Canton, Illinois
    Gotcha. If you're really liking Reo, then yes, give it a shot... as I said, don't be afraid to push your boundaries. That's how you grow as a writer!

    I was just concerned that you were trying to FORCE yourself to write Reo this particular way, but since you've got a genuine interest in it, I think you'll do fine.

    What kind of weird and hilarious are you shooting for? More of a "funny" kind of weird, like Randall from Clerks, or a "funny BECAUSE he's weird" sort of guy, like Evil Ed from Fright Night.

    Try writing out a page or two on Reo himself... just go into his background, the kinds of things he likes to do, what he thinks is funny, what he DOESN'T think is funny, what movies he likes, what music he likes. Does Reo remind you of anybody? Get a feel for WHO Reo is...

    It might even be fun to write out the first meeting between Reo and Ray -- not even to necessarily include in your book -- but to just find out how their relationship-interaction got started. Look into their history a little, so that perhaps when Reo's winding Ray up, you'll have a stronger grasp on the context of it... maybe even develop little "in" jokes between the two.

    Since Reo's not your usual kind of character, explore him a bit before you start to get into the novel... this way, you'll be much better versed in the guy and his moments in the novel will feel more natural.
     
  8. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I think the things you listed were pretty funny, keep inventing things like that! :D
    I just recently discovered that I have the opposite problem, In real life I have never thought of myself to be particularly funny, sure, I have my moments, but when I'm writing, at least with the current story, everything has a slightly funny undertone and I just can't seem to write it completely seriously even if I try (ok I tried and it came out totally boring, or at least I thought so.) It's not that my characters are always joking it's more the tone of it, which makes me think that I should try to develop it and write chic-lit...even though Im a little reluctant to do so...
    now that i think of it, why not studying some chic-lit novels to get some ideas? they are always full of weird and funny characters even as secondary characters.
     
  9. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Why don't you watch some sitcoms and pick up what makes those characters funny and weird?

    British comedies are especially quirky - more so than American humour. Although American stuff is more universally funny, if that makes sense. Take your pick, but point is, study what makes a character quirky :D
     
  10. Fullmetal Xeno
    Offline

    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,364
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Kingdom of Austniad
    Evaluate Characters. Like the character Howard from The Big Bang Theory. He's funny and he always makes fun of Sheldon. haha.
     
  11. The_NeverPen
    Offline

    The_NeverPen Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    5
    It sounds to me like Reo should keep a cage full of shaved hamsters. He may also have to sew his pockets because lose change keeps finding its way in. How much underwear does he own? Answer in pounds or kilograms. This should be a point of pride for him, possibly on a button that he wears on his hat.

    P.S. His hat is made of nacho chips.
     
  12. Shaezy
    Offline

    Shaezy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    How about if Reo narrated everything like an old style detective voice over? Which really pisses everyone off, but sometimes throws in some clever and perceptive deductions?

    Or maybe he enjoys pretending to be a German tourist for fun? (who doesn't?!)

    Or does he liken every situation to a TV show (I'm thinking Abed from Community)?

    Have you read any Harlan Coben? The "side kick", Win, is a great balance to the MC and is quite unusual. He isn't funny and quirky as such (well, he is, but in a kick ass way) but I always found the way Coben had the two characters interacting to be arresting.

    I think Reo sounds fun so far - just keep writing and see where he takes you!
     
  13. Sevvie
    Offline

    Sevvie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2011
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    1
    Personally I think the the two things you listed for Reo are perfectly funny. I have no idea what your main or Reo look like, but I honestly laughed when I imagined a stoic main character coming in, and Reo calling him a random name, perhaps a completely unrelated noun, or adjective. And I laughed even more when I imagined Reo sitting on your main's lap because he was sitting in Reo's favorite chair.

    I would suggest that you don't add too much to this character, as far as craziness goes. I think the two things you listed are perfectly fine, and go hand in hand together without overdoing it. If you have a character with this, plus ten other noticeable quirks it starts to get obvious that you were desperate.
     
  14. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada
    The best comedy isn't one-liners. It's funny situations during which the actual dialog sounds normal.
     
  15. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    As Lostinwebspace said the comic is not in the jokey stuff, its in the situations. Your sidekick calling the MC by random names all the time doesn't strike me as particularly funny so much as weird and potentially confusing to the reader.

    My thought would be to plot out your sidekick a little. Decide what it is that makes him odd. Maybe only one single trait. Paranoia would be a good one. Then take that to the extreme. If he's a little paranoid make him a lot. So the MC arrives back five minutes late one day, and sidekick assumes he's late because he was talking to the MIB. He answers the phone after three rings instead of two, its a code to people the sidekick knows are out there watching. You could just as easily play with any other trait, arrogance or emotional insecurity, or a determination to document every millisecond of his life on a webcam for posterity etc, and just plot out what each action the MC takes would mean to him based on his oddness.

    Hope that helps.
     
  16. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi again,

    Just had a thought. Watch some of the really clever comic shows where you have outstanding characters in them. Monk for the US crowd - the character is inspired as he constantly shows his need for among other things, order. Or for the UK crown, Mrs Bucket from Keeping up Appearances where her overriding character flaw is the need to be seen as aristocratic.

    Cheers.
     
  17. nchahine
    Offline

    nchahine Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Jordan
    Just a thought: maybe you don't find Reo funny because you're overstating his humor? I haven't read your work, so I can't say, but sometimes characters come off as flat or lame if it seems like the author has put too much effort into it. If you're intentionally thinking of stuff to make him seem quirky or humorous, maybe that's coming through.

    I'm not sure how I would go about it, honestly. I've actually been told that one of my character is humorous when I didn't intend him to be: but I did intend him to be blunt, bland, and oblivious, which comes off as funny, it seems.

    So maybe try thinking of the ways Reo is exactly like Ray, and then the ways in which he's the total opposite. And then concentrate on what makes him the opposite (assuming Ray is a serious character).
     
  18. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada
    If you're looking for him to be offbeat, try watching Seinfeld episodes. Anything (but not everything) Kramer does can be added to Reo. The problem is that a lot of his stuff is sight gags, which lose humour when you explain them in prose, but he's a good start. That show is a classic example of funny situations versus one-liners.

    Also, have Reo work as an elephant excrement shoveler at a zoo. Mebbe.
     
  19. AxleMAshcraft
    Offline

    AxleMAshcraft Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    In my Head (USA)
    ALSO:
    Reo is unemployed, yet he makes teases ray for his choices professionally.

    You guys have given me some really great suggestions!!
    THANKS :D
     

Share This Page