Hmm… I’m going to say that even if a writer isn’t funny in person, she can write comedy given the proper tools.  Remember, time is your friend, and so is the edit/critique process.

First thing? Decide what you want the funny to be.  I’m going to use an old situational example I did from a guest post last year on edittorrent (hey, it still works).  This is an example of the plot setup being the funny.  So, let’s say:

Your hero has sworn off women, having been dumped by the love of his life just weeks before, so he decides to join the United World Order Of Inter-Galactic Space People Organization to sulk in solitary space for a good long while. During his first mission out, he crashes his depressed ass on Amazonia, a planet populated by beautiful warrior women.  What will he do?  Hmm…I know I feel sorry for him because like every self-respecting male out there, he’s going to stick to his original plan and not screw any of the legions of women wanting a piece of him, right? ;)

Well, my version wouldn’t be a Mantasy, so he would stick to his plan. Talk about outrageous!  Really, what could be funnier than a guy pining for the witch he left behind, while the angels before him want to set him up in a castle and give him an unlimited beer supply, a tap into the universe’s biggest broadcasting station (so he can watch every sport known to man and alien alike all day and night), daily foot massages, and permission to scratch himself whenever and wherever the mood strikes. All he has to do in return is agree to impregnate their queen who is a genetic mutation of Heidi Klum and Pamela Anderson (the cartoon version of this story would hire Jessica Rabbit for the part).  Just imagine the potential for additional humor as the Amazonian women keep upping the temptations.

Now, look at what I did there.

1. I introduced the subject:  our recently dumped hero.

2. I set up the situation by giving him a common problem the reader can relate to: being dumped.  I mean, if I said the hero was depressed because someone else beat him to the discovery of a new species of fly, it wouldn’t work.  I doubt many readers would know how important that discovery is to the world, so the level of our hero’s depression over being beaten to the find of the century couldn’t be measured.  We need a common bond to connect with — hence the dumping.  Most of us, unfortunately, can relate that situation. :)


I also gave him an unreasonable, and yet plausible, goal:  swearing off women. I backed up his reactionary emotional state by having him make a drastic decision, joining the Inter-Galactic Space People Organization. Again, we can understand this, can’t we?  When we’ve been hurt, it’s human nature to make changes to prevent it from happening again.  And when we’ve been rejected, the last place we want to find ourselves on a daily basis is facing the person who dumped us  (so a space mission right about now sounds good).  In this situation, it’s normal to get an ‘Oh yeah, I’ll show you’ attitude.  So here he is, piloting his first flying saucer mission, ready to prove to the love he aches for (but will never admit that he does) that he can do just fine without her.  But then the unthinkable happens.  He crashes in Amazonia, where thousands of beautiful women — scantily clad, of course — desire him.

3. Here comes the irony:  He’s sworn off women, remember?  Now, if he had made that decision arbitrarily, this could still be funny on some level.  But what makes our scenario even funnier is that he’s pining for his one true love, so it doesn’t matter how many beautiful women want him —  not one of them is the one he wants. That’s funny.

Just like when you tell a joke, this example used layers to make the situation funny.  You need to introduce a universal connection right away, something the listener can comprehend quickly (in my example, it’s the hero getting dumped), or else the explanation for the joke is too long and your audience loses interest.  Yet also notice that,  while outrageous, we can still relate to the situation because it’s all based on truths.  We all get dumped and we all feel bad, and yes, some of us have been known to make drastic changes in our lives when this happens.  If we’re honest, we all secretly dream of making the person who rejected us regret their decision by doing great without them.  And for a certain amount of time, no matter how much we want it to be otherwise and no matter how upset we are with the dumper, we still secretly want them  —  that’s human nature.  Now, give all those truths a twist, such as presenting the common gripes by women about stereotypical males and you have your humor.

Many writers’ attempts to inject humor into their work fall flat because they’ve forgotten the most basic principle of comedy: Good humor is based on human frailties.  The weaknesses we all share give us the best material.  The closer we stick to the truth, the funnier things become, because subconsciously, it gives us the opportunity to laugh at ourselves.  A writer must seek out the truth to create her humor, or else her prose could come off as mocking, embarrassing, or ridiculing her characters, or god forbid, the reader.

No matter what type of humor you attempt,  use metaphors, similes, action verbs, and colorful adjectives (<-my favorite!), and take the time to think up new ways to say old things.  Or use running jokes (a gag) , or plan something funny for the duration of a story.

For instance, I have a heroine who messes up her metaphors, and the hero is a real stickler about them, so he continuously gets exasperated and corrects her.  The funny part comes in because she doesn’t give a crap, and it isn’t until the end of the book when her good friend, after witnessing them go through a typical exchange on the subject, says: “What’s up with that?  You doing that just to piss him off?”  The heroine doesn’t miss a beat.  She says, “Yeah.  Are you ready to go to the mall?”  That’s it.  It’s funny because the reader gets the inside joke. It isn’t explained or excused — it just is.  If I had her qualify the ‘yes’ with an added ‘because’, it would lose its shine.  The reader, if I’ve done my job right, should understand my heroine enough to know that this is her personality.  In fact, this behavior should seem so much like a part of her character, the reader is surprised they didn’t see it coming…  :D

Murphy

A quick insight into the first look at a hero and heroine meeting.  Take it with a grain of salt because it’s only my opinion. :)

Between the h/heroine – no matter the circumstances, there has to be an instant attraction.  I’m not talking: “Gee he’s got a nice ass I’d like to sink my teeth into.”  That can come later. ;) I’m referring to that inexplicable draw.  You all know the one.  An immediate thrill that strokes you inside – not out.

Which got me to thinking about the first meet of a h/heroine.  I’ve seen a lot of emphasis being placed on physical attributes to justify this draw and instant attraction between characters, but is that what it is?  For the hero, maybe.  Men are much more visually stimulated than woman.  For a woman?  What’s the draw?  Does she know – or is it that attraction isn’t a choice for her – it just is.  Something indefinable, but present.  And if that’s true, how can a writer capture it and sell the reality of what boils down to primal instinct to the reader?  I have a few ideas – anyone else?

M.

After participating in THE FRESH VOICE CONTEST over at Mills and Boon, what did I learn?

Well, for starters I can’t pick a winning entry to save my life. :) But in my defense I certainly didn’t have a chance to read all 824 entries…still! *shaking head* One would think that I may have picked at least one that would eventually final…but, um, no.

That was interesting.

Also interesting was how the contest played out.  Writers, who posted their chapters (in most cases) stuck around and read other entries leaving, oftentimes, helpful and constructive criticism.  Oh, sure, there were the Simon Cowell wannabes, signed in under assumed and clever names – but I ignored them so I don’t have much to say on that score. :D

I want to talk more about the process because really, if this contest had any drawbacks – this was it.  In my mind the contest unfolded like this.  You sent in your entry and it was read prior to being uploaded (you know, in case there was a budding romance between a fiery heroine and her horse;) ) so, right from the get-go I was thinking each entry had a kind of grade or position in an editor’s mind.  Therefore, it didn’t matter who voted, why they voted or what they voted on a particular entry after that point.  I was okay with that.  After all, this contest (to me) was about getting my feet wet.  Between you and me?  I’m an all or nothing – go big or go home – kind of a gal, so yeah, using this HUGE public forum for my very first official contest entry was the way to go.

However, I quickly began to see that votes on my chapter were stacking up and yet strangely there were hardly any comments.  Hmm…  This was a real head scratcher.  I mean, if you’re going to take the time to READ a chapter – click out of it to get back to the vote page – why wouldn’t you leave a comment, right?  SO, I hopped on to the debate thread and answered a nice gal who was kind enough to leave a comment on my work while at the same time assuring that I would read and comment back on anyone’s work, who read and commented on mine.  Made sense, right?  Quid pro quo.  I guess not, because I still had people voting on mine without comments.  Weird.  Until I noticed that I really wasn’t in the game…in that, the top few entries in my category seemed to be competing for a first place position (even though, remember?  Position didn’t matter) So what was the deal here?

When I figured it out – I was so bummed!

Quite simply, because of my position in the category – I was being used as a deflector.  Man, that rarely ever happens to me – I feel so cheap. :)  No, I feel like a ping-pong ball.  One minute up and the next down – sheesh, it was enough to make you dizzy.  Especially when there was no rhyme or reason to it.   So a big THANK-YOU to the people who did comment on my chapter.  That’s why I entered!

Anyway, I had fun, but I think, if M&B is going to run a competition like this next year – they need to sort out the voting process – that’s all I’m saying.  Maybe at the first round (when votes don’t REALLY matter) – change the rose and percentage format to something like what the editors were actually looking for: voice, content and skill.  Just a thought.

Again, had fun – met a lot of new people – you gotta love that!  And hey, my hat goes off to the Mills and Boon crew.  Considering the daunting size of the competition and everything it entailed – they did a smashing <- new word I learned from one of the participants across the pond. :) job!

M.

WELL,  if you didn’t get the chance to check out The Fresh Voice Contest over at Mills & Boon, you should do so right now!  I had a blast speaking to some of the gals from across the pond about their ideal alpha male crush.    Here’s one example of how much fun these girls are to talk with:

Me:  Seduced by the alpha male? This is my favorite topic and all you guys picked some great ones for me to dream about tonight. Thanks guys! Now, for me?

*insert no thinking at all here*

Okay, got it! I wouldn’t kick Gerard Butler out of bed for eating crackers. Come to think of it, it would be hard to kick him out when he’d probably be sporting handcuffs firmly locked to my bedpost… hehehe

Sally:  @ M. Mitchell, I am slowly coming around to Gerard Butler. He’s been a slow burn for me.

Me:  That’s okay Sally. I wouldn’t want you getting too attached to him anyway – you know? On account of the handcuffs, my bedpost and three being a crowd. ;)

I’ve googled your guy, though. And girl? I like the way you get inspired!

Sally: @ M – Eros is absolutely beautiful, isn’t he? I was smitten at first sight!

Me: @ Sally – YES! And, because we’ve just met – I’m going to be gracious and offer you a set of my newly purchased handcuffs, but sorry, you’ll have to get your own bedpost for him, k? ;)

Sally @ M – Oh I think I can manage that, but funnily enough, later in my novel a silk scarf comes in handy ;-)

Me:  Gee, Sally, you sound like my kind of gal. Now, why didn’t you mention the scarf idea before I went and bought all the handcuffs? Drat! ;)

Sally:  I figure that a girl is more likely to have a silk scarf to hand than a pair of handcuffs. Sometimes you just have to work with the tools you’ve got ;-)

Hilarious!  I met so many wonderful and talented people.  I’m glad I participated.

Check it out!  There are a multitude of things to learn from reading the comments alone.  Really.  It’s interesting to see what holds a reader’s attention and what doesn’t.  IMO, the writers who were brave enough to submit their work early on in the competition (like me :) ) wound up getting the most out of the experience.  Hey, there were writers who actually took the time to look up my profile and track me down outside of the competition – that certainly was a bonus I hadn’t counted on.

So, if you haven’t made your way over there to read some of this undiscovered talent, you should.  A few of these gals (and I know who you are) are going to be the bright stars of tomorrow and the rest that aren’t quite there yet?  Well, you’ll get your turn,  because it took a huge amount of confidence and guts to post your work out there for people to read.

To everyone who did?  Congratulations!  You deserve a big honking gold star with blinking lights and sparkly glitter with  a little fairy sitting on top – who’ll grant your every wish <- (hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?) :) .  Hello?  Gerard?

Crapatola!  When I envisioned Gerry in handcuffs and made my wish – this really wasn’t what I had in mind.  Phooey! ;)

The best of luck to all that participated, not just for the contest outcome, but the for the coming months, when you’ll take everything you learned through this experience and apply it to become the kick-ass writer you want to be.

M.

552239_542946505721672_1245606052_n

Please stop the world so Honey can get off.  Seriously?  Why is it when I’m sick I’m like:

“Gee, I think I’ll go rest for a bit.  I’m not feeling quite right.”

Translation?  Let me get away from you for two reasons.  One, I don’t want to make you sick and two, I don’t want to bother you.

NOW, when Honey’s sick he sulks in front of me every chance he gets.  There’s only SO many times I’m willing to ask: “Are you okay?” before I’m ready to dig out the pick-axe.  Trust me, I thought about that a few times yesterday.

Yes, it was right after he coughed in my face and just before he started digging through our life insurance policies to make sure we were all paid up on his premiums.  Really?  Unbelievable!  I will admit, he does do a fine job of looking like he’s been laid-low.  Why, by mid-afternoon I was thinking he’d need to climb a ladder to kiss a gnat’s ass.  That kind of pathetic – takes a certain kind of talent to pull off, you know?

So, what’s the deal? Why is it that a woman can run her household, do that huge presentation at work, and stand outside in the pouring ran watching her child’s football practice while she’s got a horrible case of walking pneumonia, but when a man is faced with the onset of a measly 24 hour bug he’s suddenly bed-ridden and, if by some miracle he does struggle to get himself out of bed, we now have the additional problem that he’s physically unable to dress himself!  Why?

Inquiring minds want to know…

Riley

Site Designed & Maintained by Laideebug Digital Laideebug Digital

The Romance Reviews