Does anyone write humor?

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casnow
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Does anyone write humor?

Post by casnow » December 16th, 2009, 10:49 am

I was curious if anyone on here writes humorous novels (i.e., a Chris Moore, a Carl Hiassen)? Those are my favorite books to read, and I've gotten about 15k words into writing one, and I've got to say it is HARD!!! I find myself experimenting with two things. One, writing the basic story and dialogue in normal terms, and then going back and funnifying it. The other method is to try and be funny right off the bat, but that seems to be a lot harder for me.

Anyone else ever try in this genre?

Cam

Tzalaran
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Tzalaran » December 16th, 2009, 11:09 am

Nope. My humor is all spur of the moment type stuff that isn't funny printed.

Wish i could write humor, but it just isn't one of my strengths.
I'd rather hate myself for failing, than hate my life for never having tried.
"Success leads to stagnation. Stagnation leads to failure." - Vlad Taltos

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Mira
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Mira » December 16th, 2009, 1:05 pm

Hey cassnow, yes, I write humor. I know exactly what you're talking about, too.

I write humor both ways. I'll let it emerge in the first draft, but I try not to push too hard. Sometimes it comes, sometimes not. Sometimes, I'll wait for it. I'll try one thing, then another, until I hit on something that makes me laugh, and I know I've got it.

But alot of times, it's not there, so I'll just move on. I'll even mark it (joke) in my draft. Or sometimes (check joke) (that means I want something funnier). Sometimes, I need to see the whole layout before I know what direction to take the humor. Sometimes I'll go back and completely change or drop the joke (this just kills me!) if I've gone a different direction. Or sometimes I'll go back and think, that's not funny. What was I thinking!

The hardest part for me is once I've read my joke about 6 times, I no longer find it funny, and that gets tricky. Sometimes I just have to trust my first instincts, when I laughed.

Writing humor is alot about trust. You have to trust that you can think of something funny eventually. And you will, you just have to trust it. :)

I'd love to hear more about your process - we have to stick together us humor writers. :)

Good luck with your book!

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 16th, 2009, 6:15 pm

I hope that people find parts of JACOB WONDERBAR funny, though I didn't expressly set out to write a "funny" novel. I personally think the funny books I love are usually funny because the spirit of the novel is really wacky in fun way or because you laugh because you feel like you know the character so well. Or both. That's why I love HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and Roald Dahl's novels so much - they are a little of both. Or a movie like Rushmore.

I don't know about writing/revising for the funny or letting it come through first. I imagine different writers have different techniques. Just as long as the end result is there.

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Scott
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Scott » December 16th, 2009, 7:42 pm

Some of my characters turn out very funny. But funny real, or rather, in spite of themselves. And I've had my fair of smart-asses. Humor for me comes in point of view, and it works when it seems to come from them, not me.

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marilyn peake
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by marilyn peake » December 16th, 2009, 8:55 pm

My approach to humor is similar to what Nathan and Scott described. I love developing characters that are humorous in their behavior, even if my overall novel or short story is serious.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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shadow
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by shadow » December 16th, 2009, 9:22 pm

No not really. I have a great friend who does and I love the novel it really is funny but me nope. I don't know why but I am not much of the humor junkie. I much rather adventure, fantasy, and paranormal but I love to read books with humor! :D
All things writing, visit my blog http://arielemerald.blogspot.com/

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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by kmittan48 » December 17th, 2009, 6:54 pm

My critiquer says my voice is sarcastically funny. Allrightythen! Do I intentionally write humor? No. I'm basically a very serious person. But if others think my book is funny, I'm good. I actually wish I could write humor on purpose. I wish I were a funny person. But I can't and I'm not so any of you who can and are have my wholehearted support and applause. I hope you get published and I get to read your books!

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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Kaitlyne » December 17th, 2009, 10:39 pm

I don't write humor books, but I have taken to writing more humor into them lately. The last one had a lot of humor (particularly of the dorky variety...I have no idea if it will work with the average reader ;). I was actually a bit worried about this because I had never written humor before, but even my mom was laughing aloud while reading it, so I think I probably have at least a few good lines in there.

My latest project is much more humorous. The book is told in first-person, and it's just the way the MC thinks. I'm hoping it works because I imagine if not he won't be nearly as entertaining to read. I'm feeling more confident in it, though. The humor isn't the main aspect of either, though. The last one gets pretty dark in places, and while I haven't written much of the current one yet, there will definitely be some emotional scenes that aren't the least bit funny. The humor is just there to spice things up a bit.

Mary Jo
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Mary Jo » December 18th, 2009, 8:42 am

Humor adds spice to life, lived or recorded on paper. Humor eases tension and gets people to laugh about situations that won't change otherwise.

Many funny things happen in life and become family stories, passed to generations in conversation; writers save these gems on paper. My draft novel is a fantasy, based on childhood memories of fictional characters with an adult spin. It was a hoot to write and read in sessions with my writing group. Sometimes they laughed at lines I didn't realise were funny. Other times, a critique helped me perfect a part and inspired a new plot line.

I agree that a problem part is often helped with the passage of time, leaving the word-snarl until a few days later, then trying it again.

Mary Jo

casnow
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by casnow » December 20th, 2009, 2:43 pm

I guess what I was referring to was laugh-out-loud, fall of your barstool type of funny. Not a few funny bits or good humored parts, but an entire novel of zaniness (you know, the type of zany that can only come out of the sun-baked brains of people that have spent too much time sun-bathing in south Florida).

Oh well, back to the painfully unfunny editing that I'm currently doing (I've managed to carve 4k extra words out of the first 134 pages of MS, which has made me wonder if I run on-and-on while talking, b/c my characters sure are long winded... well, except for the bigfoot... he just grunts a lot - in addition to farts and burps, but that's not really dialogue).

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A La Vanille
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by A La Vanille » December 23rd, 2009, 2:22 pm

I think one of the stories I am writing is funny because it's random and silly. Though, it's in my nature to be random and silly and I don't mean to put that into my novel, but there it gets put anyways. In fact, another story I'm writing (multitasker here) is trying it's hardest to be serious. Though of course, we can't leave out some funny elements, now can we? :)
I think it's not a good idea to try and write humor, if you got the knack for it great, if you don't, don't force it. If you pay attention to every line, hoping the reader gets it, why, it might end up like a novice comedian in a bar, trying to crack jokes. And you're sitting there thinking, eheheheh...huh?

Not saying all you peoples in this lovely thread don't have the knack for it, but I'd try less to be funny and let it flow more naturally. Because when we really think about it, what is it in life that makes for the funniest moments? It's the unexpected ones, right? :D

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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by RLS » December 28th, 2009, 10:04 pm

There are some very funny parts in my book. And it's not just me who thinks so. My mom said. (Twice.) And my dentist.
Okay, I lied about my dentist.
True story. In one part of my book, I had a character say, "Well, you know what they say about L.A.?" When I wrote this line, I had not idea what she was going to say next, but before I 'tried' to come up with an answer, and while the main character said, "No, what?" I/the character said, "Hell if I know, I'm a New Yorker."
While I recognize the above excerpt is not hilarious, my point is this: the words came from the characters. Rarely the other way around. As a matter of fact, I am not that funny in person. (Except my friend Carolyn thinks I am. One of the many reasons I like to sit next to her at parties, but I digress.)
Something about the act of typing makes me more clever than I really am.
I will, however, tweak a word or two, to get the flow just right. Or right enough.
One more thing to add. While I usually shy away from books (or teachers) who conceptualize the visceral domain, I did pick up, Writing Television Sitcoms by Evan Smith. I especially liked how he explained the 'parts' of a joke. The set up/delivery/pay off etc. to paraphrase.

casnow
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by casnow » December 30th, 2009, 12:15 am

I just read over The Stupidest Angel by Chris Moore, which is a book that keeps you reading, makes the characters seem almost normal, and has some laugh out loud funny parts - however, most of it is just this type of humor that I can't really describe. It's like you think of an unfunny situation:

A sad bar with a bunch of drunks

Then you add in a cantankerous old bartendress
And a former scream queen movie star
and an Angel that wants a snickers bar and a coke

And suddenly you've got something funny. It turns out he writes incredibly slowly (250 words/day) and claims that in general there are very, very few changes to the manuscripts (other than typos), and writes it funny off the bat.

Oh well, I guess I'm doomed to be bad at writing funny!

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Rick Daley
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Re: Does anyone write humor?

Post by Rick Daley » January 4th, 2010, 3:14 pm

Many people have told me that my blog posts are funny, and one of my W's in P is a humor novel. I find that when I try to be funny, I'm not (my wife will attest to this) and when I just relax and let the words flow my inner smart-ass often takes over. The challenge is reigning that in so I can make coherent sense in long form storytelling, i.e. make sure I have substance to balance out the style.

Writing funny is different than telling a joke because you don't have the advantage of timing. Humor that relies on sarcastic inflection or silence before revealing a punchline can fall flat when written. There are several things that add to the humor in my writing, but before I go into them I must say that explaining why something is funny is NEVER funny. That being said:

- Word choice. This is usually a combination of words, not a single gem plucked from the vocabulary tree. Although booger is almost always a funny word.
- Situations. Dramatic irony can be very effective. Keep your readers informed and your characters in the dark. Other situational humor can come from a funny premise.
- An unexpected turn of events. The Improbability Drive in THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE was effective at this.

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