"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)



Sheesh, get your mind out of the gutter. Of course I would never say that. WTF stands for Write the Funny.

I think I'm a funny person. I come up with a zinger or two from time to time. I'd love to be able to add some humor to my novels, but I find I just can't do it on purpose. So, I did a little research to find some tips on how to write humor.

The Set-Up. The set-up can be as important as the punchline. Sometimes it isn't directly stated. It's better if it's implied, but sometimes an explicit set-up is essential for clarity.

Surprise. The punchline should be the very last word of the joke. You want to hide the surprise until the very end. The more surprising and unexpected, the funnier the joke.

The Twist. Good humor often has a twist at the end.

Relationships. Relationships and connections are key to every joke. Pay attention to how things are the same and different. Look for positive and negative connections.

Life Experiences. Some of the funniest moments can come from real life. For example: My son did an experiment to see if the Tooth Fairy is real. He had his tooth under his pillow for four days without telling anyone.

Go Beyond Ordinary. Exaggeration and extrapolation can take you to a funny place.

Word Play. Also known as the double entendre. Play with different meanings of words.

Spelling. Similarly, you can swap homonyms to create a new, humorous meaning.

You tell me. What cracks you up?


Joe Richardson said...

Hey Shelli,

Well first, let me say you've won my respect simply by being bold enough to write humor. Sometimes my characters say clever things, but I never set out with that intent. I think it'd tank me.

More often, I'll be writing a bit of dialogue, and I'll see an opening for a twist. It usually takes that form of one character making a remark, and another responding in sharp manner, where you think -- ha! he told her -- and then the first character comes back with a topper -- ha and HA!

It's a waltz, I guess. One, two, three. And you're on to the next bit.

Little exchanges like that always make me smile. Guess that's why I write 'em. Thanks for the post!

Best, Joe w: watermark

Donna Weaver said...

I love humor, and I wish I was funnier on paper. I can be plenty funny spontaenously and I see the humor in life all around me.

Love your post.

nutschell said...

i wish i could be as funny on the paper, but unfortunately my wit isn't nearly as quick enough.

Sue Jackson said...

Ah, you expressed exactly how I feel, Shelli. I love humor and would love to be able to write humor but it just never seems as natural or as funny as what I've read from other authors. I really admire anyone who can write funny.

Hey, how'd that tooth fairy experiment turn out? ha ha Our sons used to get upset when they told us they were putting a tooth under the pillow and somehow the tooth fairy still forgot. She must be getting old or something...


Jaydee Morgan said...

Humor is hard to write. You've given some good tips here :)

Mercy a.k.a Rogue said...

Humor is great, I love to read writing injected with a touch of humor, but as for writing it myself... I fail miserably. Some great food for though though, thank you Shelli.

Angela Felsted said...

I'm loving the double entendre's in my WIP.

Probably loving them too much, actually.

Damyanti said...

Humour is the hardest thing to write. I'll get there some day. Eventually :)

Shelli said...

Joe, thanks for sharing your experience. Dialogue seems the perfect place to start practicing a little humor.

Thanks, Donna. I'd like to slip a little into all my novels; a little comic relief is always welcome.

Sue -- The Tooth Fairy finally showed up after my son let us in on the experiment. That night, he knocked on my door and said, "Thanks for the money, Mom."

Jaydee -- Hope it helps!

Mercy -- Do you think we'll get better with practice?

Angela -- I'm not surprised. Your poetry shows a very strong depth of meaning to your words. It's nice that talent can cross over to your other writing.

Damyanti -- It is hard! Once we master it, I suppose everything else will be easy, right? ;)