As promised, here is my second post from the Humor, Heat, and Hooks: The Building Blocks of a Page Turner workshop I attended at national. My apologies again to author Katy Madison, the presenter, as I am unable to access the link she provided and thus cannot transfer it on to all of you.
Humor is one of the quickest ways to endear a character and engage the reader's attention.
Using self-depreciation can let the reader know that:
- Your character is not a whiner
- Your character has a sense of humor and is likable
- Your character is optimistic and not beaten
Even if you don't have a sense of humor, your characters can. But remember not everything is funny to everyone.
Ways to write humor:
Series of three
Dogs and children
Fish our of water
Banter ---Not argument
Male vs. female differences
Slapstick ---Can be easily overdone.
Caveat: Never, never have your characters laugh at another character's jokes.
And tread lightly --- this is a place where less is more.
I like to write humor. I think most of you have heard about my beloved cactus scene. In my WIP I had a scene, one of my favorites, where, at the hospital's New Years Eve party, in the process of avoiding her ex and the hero, a nurse hides out in a dark office......and bumps into a cactus. Not just any cactus, a huge six footer that weighed several hundred pounds. I researched cacti. Learned about their spines and which ones were most likely to attach to clothing.
Did you know the San Pedro cactus is alleged to have aphrodisiac properties? But I digress.
The scene was funny...hysterical in my opinion. With lines like: The King Kong of Cacti and a cactus accoutrement. My agent says it was so different, it's one of the reasons she signed me. I entered the scene in two contests and finaled in each with very positive feedback. I won the Medical Romance Pitch with that scene. And yet the editor I'm working with said something to the effect....it's a great scene, I just don't think the cactus adds anything to it. Doesn't add anything? It added humor. (My character: "Hello. Caught on a cactus here." Now that's something you don't say every day.)
And that's when I learned that humor, solely for the purpose of laughs, is not what my editor is looking for. In fact she mentioned the reader may be concerned for my character's safety, worried about her being injured by the sharp spines. That's not at all what I'd intended. So, after three attempts to get it past her and with much procrastination, I edited it out.
Do you write humor? Do you enjoy reading humor? Any humorous scenes that have taken root in your mind that you'd like to share?
- It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
- A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
- You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
- Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
- Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
- I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan