Tickling the Funny Bone
by: Janice Hanna Thompson
“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”
Humor writing comes naturally to some authors. Others have to work hard to be funny. (Sounds funny, doesn’t it. . .working hard to be funny?) I’m one of those who came into the world with an overactive funny bone. Oh, it occasionally gives me trouble. Life’s woes kick in and my funny bone gets arthritic. It locks up. Whenever that happens, I trip myself on purpose, just to loosen it back up again. (Hey, a girl can only go so long without laughter!)
Yep, from the time I was a little girl, I was the happy-go-lucky sort. Giggly. Goofy. My mom always called me a ham because of my overly-dramatic style. Not that I minded. Oh no. Drama was my thing. And performing comedy on the stage was the thing that made me happiest.
Then I grew up. . .and life happened. Unfortunately, some of the events of my grown-up life weren’t funny. In fact, they were pretty tragic. Still, through my faith and my innate desire to keep on keepin’ on, I managed to keep my smile intact much of the time.
So, what does this have to do with writing? Everything!
So, what makes a story funny? Here are a few tips to creating a tale that will tickle the funny bone:
2. Exaggeration: If your character is tall, make him really tall. Chubby? Make her exceptionally chubby. Nervous? Make him overly anxious. Claustrophobic? Carry it a bit further than the norm. Does she like to wear lipstick? Make it Pollyanna Pink or Ruby Red. Give that character an exaggerated “sticking point” that readers will remember. And, exaggerate plotline highs and lows, as well. Is she in a valley? Make it a deep one. Is he on the mountaintop? Give him the experience of a lifetime.
4. Slapstick: Think of Larry, Mo and Curly. Sure, their antics got a little old after awhile, but you get the idea. “Physical” comedy (tripping over things, physical gags, etc.) has always had its place in humor writing. Use these events sparingly, but don’t rule them out.
5. Speaking of Larry, Mo and Curly: Work in threes. Three funny characters as a trio. Three funny situations in a row. Threes have always worked in comedy. “Three nuns walked into a bar…” (etc.) See what I mean? Funny people love the number three.
6. Pacing: There’s much to be said about the placement of words, phrases and inflections. Pacing it truly everything in comedy. In many respects, it is learned by trial and error. If you aren’t sure something is working, run it by your critique partners. See if they’re tickled by your words.
7. The Punch Line. If you’re writing comedy, make sure you leave the reader anticipating a “Wowza!” punch line. Don’t give away too much too soon. Adequately build the story, then. . .bam! Punch line!
Blessed are those who are poor in contracts,
for they will surely reap their reward if they do not give up.
Blessed are those who mourn as a result of rejection slips,
for they can be comforted in the fact that they are not alone.
Blessed are the meek, humbly accepting God’s call and recognizing that any accomplishment comes from His Mighty hand,
for they will inherit the respect of fellow authors, as well as the favor of God.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for great-writing,
for their computers will be filled with well-written manuscripts.
Blessed are those who are merciful to editors and agents,
for they will be shown abundant mercy.
Blessed are the pure-hearted authors who seek to serve the Lord with their writing,
for they will see God – both in their work and their worship.
Blessed are the peacemakers, doing all they can to humor cranky critique partners,
for they will be called “godly mentors.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted because they wear the name “Christian writer”
for they carry the indisputable call of God on their lives.
Blessed are you when editors insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against your well-loved and beautifully written manuscript. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the many Christian authors who walked before you.
You (writers) are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
You (writers) are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
That’s it for now, writers. Go forth and giggle!
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Thank you Janice for being with us today!!
Reader's you simply MUST check out Janice's new series and her latest release, It Had to Be You. One of the best I have EVER read and will have you howling in the aisles. This book releases THIS MONTH- don't delay getting your copy!!