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  1. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Comedy Feels Like I Can Only Write Jokes...

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by frigocc, Dec 6, 2019.

    Does anyone else ever feel like their writing isn't good enough? I started writing maybe a year ago, and I've made some progress.

    Started writing absurdist humor, like Hitchhiker's Guide, as I find that to come easier to me than other styles.

    But then I read something like Good Omens that completely trashes my confidence. Something that can be so overwhelmingly funny, yet also serious at the same time.

    I can write jokes and asides here and there, but for the life of me, I can't turn it off. I never know when NOT to make a sentence a joke. Even my plots are just one big joke.

    All I want is to be able to curb my humor just the right amount to have a serious, yet funny edge, but it's so damn hard. How did Gaiman do it?
     
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  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    I think the more you read of a genre, the easier it is to write in that genre. Read more serious fiction.

    Plots can easily be turned from humour to serious. HHGTTG could be written as a serious work with precisely the same plot, if you simply remove the humourous elements - Arthus Dent is rescued by an alien after the Earth is destroyed, for example.
     
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  3. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I guess my problem is I'm trying to figure out how to make it genuinely serious AND absurd. Like Dimensions of Miracles by Robert Sheckley.
     
  4. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Just reading and watching Good Omens tells me how much better I could be writing.
     
  5. labelab

    labelab Member

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    No writer has ever made progress without self-doubt. That’s not to say you can’t improve- you really haven’t been writing for all that long, so improvement is inevitable.

    Just keep reinforcing the fact that nothing you write has to be perfect, have fun with it, and only fix things in editing. I’ve found that comparing myself to other writers and striving for perfection sucks all the fun out of it, and it shows in the writing, so... Let loose.

    (and it would be a bit weird if you could write a book like good omens after only a year)
     
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  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    It takes work, and some help when you can get it. :)

    You can't force yourself to write anything (and expect it
    to come out decently), much like drawing the more stressed
    you are while creating, the less it will go the way you want.

    You need to set your aim in writing your best of your ability,
    and stop worrying if it will stand up to some famous work.
    You work on your stories, and not burden your mind with
    trivial things like comparing yourself to your favorite authors.
    It will do you no favors in the long run.
    You can always improve by getting useful feedback on what
    you are working on, since an outside perspective will see passed
    your own personal bias towards your own writing.

    You need to be able to enjoy writing what you want, and remember
    that nothing is set in stone, until you have done the best that you
    can do to get it there. Edits, trimming the fat, and all that jazz. :p
    Remember they're your stories, no one elses. :)
     
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  7. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I know you guys are right, but I still can't help but feel frustrated. I'm not of the mindset to where you get your books to the point where they're good, and then publish them. I know that method helps you get published quicker, you can put out more books, and each work will get better, but I'd rather put out 1 great book than 12 good ones.

    I know first drafts are never great, but first books can be. It just may be the 400th draft of that book.

    I guess why I'm frustrated is because I know I can write a great book, I just . . . haven't.
     
  8. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Senior Member

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    First of all, you're comparing yourself to Neil Gaiman. He is, of course, a masterful writer and tells some of the best stories I've ever read. You said you've only been writing on purpose for about a year? Gaiman has decades of work on you. Time will help you achieve your goal, as will reading, and patience within yourself.

    I know that patience with our own work is almost impossible, but sometimes we owe it to ourselves to remember Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was Syracuse. (Thank you, Shemp!)
     
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  9. isaac223

    isaac223 Active Member

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    Plots can totally turn from funny to serious. Not a novel, but the game series Disgaea has a really fun trend where they take what seem like silly, throwaway character gags and turn them into serious, sometimes heartwrenching details about the cast. Subverting expectations about what your humor means and hiding underlying implications under a facade of humor can actually be a fun way to go about it.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Didn't this exact same post appear not that long ago? Like this same exact thing word for word? If you're going to bring a topic up again, I think it's best to refresh what it is you're asking and why. I think you've been a member here long enough to know these things
     
  11. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Nope. Not unless I accidentally double clicked to create a thread.
     
  12. Noir

    Noir Member

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    I feel like this every day. Even when I look over my comments here on the forum. I'm going to look at this post after I'm done and cringe at how badly written it probably is. Right now I am questioning whether or not I should have ended that last sentence with a preposition. While writing the previous sentence I backspaced and changed should've to should have and now I'm wondering if I should have used quotations for either of those and if so, single or double? Did I put that last comma in the right place? Is this paragraph too long? Should I have started another one already!?

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

    Deep breath. I've wanted to write fiction since I was in the fourth grade. Who Dug Up My Brother's Grave? That was the title of my first story, written freehand on notebook paper, and I never finished it. I've continued the trend of not finishing or just flat out not starting my stories and I am 30 years old (31 in a few days). I spent years "trying" to write and then years longer having just given up and not bothering. I've finally decided to take it seriously and now I feel like more of a failure than I do an amateur but I know I'm not because you have to actually try at something in order to fail at it.

    Is this post about me or you? It's about you, I promise. I've only read what you have said here and I already like it infinitely more than I do my own (lack of) writing. It's okay to fret. It's okay to be stressed and even unfairly compare yourself to better writers. But don't let those things consume you. Don't turn into a neurotic, anxious mess who is too scared to write so they never write anything.

    I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett that wasn't funny and yet I believe he is one of the most profound writers I've ever read. Don't be afraid to be funny, but don't try to be funny and I would offer the same advice for being profound or deep or too serious.

    Best of luck. Keep writing.

    “Our situation, the human situation, is, in the final analysis, neither grim nor meaningful but funny. What else can you call it? The wisest people are the clowns.”​
    -Philip K. Dick, The Golden Man - Introduction, 1980
     
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  13. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    The crazy thing is, despite knowing that these giants have decades of experience on me, I truly do expect to make my book perfect enough to stand up to them. I don't want this book to just be good.
     
  14. labelab

    labelab Member

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  15. labelab

    labelab Member

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    “Writer’s block is having too much time.”

    I cant remember who said this, but it’s pretty much my mantra. Maybe try writing 1000 words in 30 minutes. This should help exercise your self-control when it comes to editing whilst you write, as well as force an end product out. Good luck!
     
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  16. Noir

    Noir Member

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    I appreciate the support. :] Currently, part of my problem is my job. During the winter, I work 12 to 15 hours a day on average. Yesterday fell asleep while sitting in front of my laptop for 30 minutes and didn't wake up until my face hit the keys.

    While I feel this is a legitimate grievance on my part, it's still just an excuse. I could be writing now, after all. I think I'll go do that even if it won't be 1,000 words in 30 minutes (I'm aiming for at least 1,000 words a day).
     
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  17. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Senior Member

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    We all start somewhere. I know that's trite and cliche, but I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it. You say you don't want the book to be just good? I usually think books are just good. Yeah, I might start with "Oh, this book is fantastic. You should read it." But then people want to know why I think so, and I'll go further into detail about why, but it's always been good.

    Good is not a negative or a lesser status. I think setting your standards so high will only limit your vision. I know that sounds harsh or impossible, but it's true. If you set yourself such high standards, you might not meet them, and then where are you? Back at the bottom of your confidence.

    Humor is nothing to be down about, either. It's hard to be funny in a day where memes are running rampant. Could be you're the next big name in humor. I don't know. We're all doing our best. And if you do your best, then that's all it can be.
     
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  18. labelab

    labelab Member

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    I won't call you out on that excuse because that many hours is ridiculous. Kudos to you for persevering- that's the hardest part.
     
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  19. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    One thing I will say, @frigocc , is that I used to feel like this. But don't see it as a bad thing, use it as something to hone and influence your writing and characters. Use your humour to your advantage.

    What I mean by this, is that as humans, most of us have a sense of humour, and it greatly defines our personalities far more than other aspects.
    When authors begin thinking up new characters, they usually start with character traits like "low self-esteem." or "driven." or "laid back." and then go on through to describe everything about this new character without giving a second's thought to their sense of humour - which greatly impacts the dialogue of the character and their interactions with other characters more.

    A 'for instance?' I have a character, Thom Kelland. He is quick-witted, self-deprecating and likes to try and add humour whenever possible, even in solemn moments that don't deserve it, just to try and get people to like him. It's a mechanism that shows his most important character trait of all - inside he is insecure, despite being rich and famous. And because of the humour, and how he uses it, I never have to mention to the reader once that he is insecure. Because when he comes into contact with people who clearly dont like him, he makes things worse, and tries harder.

    Then there is another, a Russian called Milan Kalakov. A gruff, alpha male who is in the military. He is grouchy, stern to his subordinates, doesn't suffer fools gladly, and is and totally unlikeable.
    How the fudge do I get the reader to LIKE or even RELATE to this guy? By his humour. He has a dour, sardonic and sarcastic tone, that makes fun of others and situations in the "That's what I secretly WISH I could say to that person if I could."
    Upon waking from a concussion, and finding out he is wounded, and that the wound created a long streak across his hairline from the right forehead to back beyond his ear? After a while, he reflects on his new haircut.
    "Ugh, great. I look like a fucking hipster!"
    His gruff humour helps you relate to a guy who you wouldn't want to be your friend in a million years.

    Two very different characters have their personalities given much more depth by me using humour.
    "Novels are serious, I must think seriously" is possibly the worst thing you can focus your mind on.

    It is far better to have a sense of humour and tone it down, than it is for a writer that has no sense of humour to try and create believable characters.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019

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