Monday, April 8, 2013

Using Humor

I heard from a few of you that were disappointed last week. Yeah, I wish it were true too. Next time I announce a publishing contract I won't be crying wolf. It was the best joke I could think of for April Fools and apparently hit its mark. 
Speaking of jokes, how do you add humor to a manuscript? Even text books have been known to insert a humorous illustration or story example to accompany information. Readers appreciate an appropriate amount of humor to spice up less lively narration or change the mood. Here are some ideas. Don't forget to let me know what has worked for you, or mention a humorous moment you've enjoyed from a book or movie.

1. Add a comical sidekick. This one is classic because the amount of humor is typically pleasing. Ramòn, the comic-relief guy in my contemporary YA suspense, is a younger neighbor who gives advice from experience beyond his years or else knows how to fake it. 
2. A misunderstanding can become comical. Think of old "I Love Lucy" episodes.
3. Cultural, age, or situation clashes can be seen as humorous when the embarrassment is not transferred to the reader. Sometimes it feels good to laugh at a character--especially when deserved. 
4. The voice of the scene or character is written in such a way that humor oozes from it. The author has mirth bubbling from the corner of his smile and it translates through the fingers or pen. He may laugh out loud himself as the hilarity flows (just as an author may cry where a reader cries).
5. Dialogue is a great place to manifest humor. It can be what a character says, how she says it, an amusing accent, or sneaky internal thoughts. Play with it and rewrite what doesn't work. Then the joke won't be on you. 


Hannah Holt said...

Great ideas. I like to put my character in a place they wouldn't normally be and play with how they would react.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Great, Hannah. The unexpected element is fun to play with and can add suspense or humor.