Expansion Pack: Comedy wrap up

Lisa BurtonHi, Gang. Craig with you once more. This time I want to wrap up the mini-series about writing comedy. In the previous two posts, we gave a list of common situations you can use, or modify into your own work. Read those posts here and here.

I’m sure there are many more situations that work as plotted elements for your stories. I’m known for living documents, and those notes came from one of my documents.

This wrap is about the other kind of comedy. Those things that just come to you on the fly while drafting your story. For this to work, you have to keep an open mind.

I’ve had some wonderful things come to me on the fly. Many times it comes after I know my characters a bit better. There’s always one who’s prone to make a smart remark. At those times, I write them into his/her dialog. Sometimes, I take them right back out, occasionally they remain. This works well in buddy stories where the main characters can banter a little.

A prime example is the root monsters. These are some of my most popular characters from my pirate fantasy. It all started when a witch doctor joined the cast. I was writing this one on a slower path, and I decided I needed something for a witch doctor to do. It wasn’t enough to just stick the label on him and leave it at that. Readers deserved a little taste. At the end of my writing weekend, he’d grown these four creatures in a pot to serve as camp guardians during the night. I fully expected them to wither and die the following day.

They worked on me during my weekly commutes. Swarms are scary and this could be a good thing. When I opened my MS the following weekend, they turned out kind of snarky, but dumbly happy. Since their creator had been an enslaved islander, they spoke a variety of pidgin English.

Today, I think there are around twenty of them, but only about a quarter have names. Readers seem to love them, so they remain in the subsequent stories. This is a long story to make a point. If I hadn’t been open to letting the characters take over, they would have been a footnote to the story. They’ve proven quite helpful to me, because it gives me a chance to schedule a breather in the action by using their antics.

I picked up in previous comments that some authors don’t see themselves as funny. You might not be, but I want you to ponder something. Many of us were repressed as kids. You know who you are, but probably grew up with lines like, “Children should be seen and not heard.” I’m going to propose that it was probably worse for the girls than the boys.

Fiction is a good place to let go of some of those thoughts. You probably had that one hilarious aunt or uncle. What would they say under the circumstances in your story?

Toss a few things into your draft and let your critique partners and beta readers give you feedback. Maybe it works, and maybe it doesn’t. Much of what we do is like a muscle. If you exercise it, it gets stronger. Comedic bits work the same way. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

43 thoughts on “Expansion Pack: Comedy wrap up

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday March 11th 2021 – #Humour Craig Boyack, #York A Bit About Britain, #NegativeReviews Jan Sikes, #Release Sue Vincent | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  2. I like to throw a quirky character or two into my stories. And I like banter and snark once in a while. They can lift a scene. I got a kick out of the witch doctor planting chunks of veggies and having them come to life. Really clever! He was in one of my favorite characters. I never knew what you were going to do with him.

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  4. Great post and series, Craig. I’ve always been the one in the crowd providing Comic Relief, usually with wordplay. (I’m not saying it always works as well as I might like, you know, but I find making people laugh to be very enjoyable and I get a lot of practice these days with my nature talks. If the audience isn’t smiling and chuckling, I feel I’m not doing my job of making the program entertaining as well as informative.

    In my books, I don’t deliberately try to write funny situations so much as funny or sometimes snarky dialogue. Depends on the character, but I enjoy giving them droll and amusing lines, especially to break up tense moments. Often, they seem to tell me exactly what to write, and I never ignore that when it happens. And since most of my characters are based on the kinds of people I’ve been around all my life, it makes it easier for me to know what they’d likely say in any given situation.

    So that’s my way of adding some laughs here and there. Amusing banter, I can handle. Talking vegetables, I’m going to leave to folks with brilliantly fantastic imaginations, like YOU! 😀 Great post! Sharing!

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  5. Great advice, Craig. I don’t often use comedy in my writing, but I have a blast with it when I do.
    I’ve met a few comedic characters in my work by letting them take the reins. I do think when you get to know your characters well, it’s easy to write their dialogue true to their makeup, even if their makeup is different than yours. I’ve enjoyed this series!

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  6. Another excellent post, Craig. And it’s great to see Lisa! I miss her. 🙂 Comedy is not easy to write and you’ve laid out some great pointers. But this statement, really grabbed me, “Much of what we do is like a muscle. If you exercise it, it gets stronger.” Truer words were never spoken. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. You bring up a good point about humor. I think it can start or end when we are kids. I was lucky enough to be rather insensitive to adults telling me to “get serious.” I had a big stunner when I was young, and after that seriousness, there was no reason to live a life clouded with it. I have always counted on humor to get me through. I keep it on the low down in my books, but it is there as well. Good post, Craig.

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  8. You might be right about being funnier than we think. I was of the “be seen and not heard” generation. I don’t think I’m fiction-funny, but I think I’m friend-funny. I’ve never tried to put humor in my stories, but even so, there have been times when people have told me certain things made them laugh. (And that’s something, because most of what I write is dark.) You’ve definitely given me something to think about.

    And YAY that you didn’t let the root monsters wither. You know I’m their biggest fan. I I I I !

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  9. Pingback: Expansion Pack: Comedy wrap up | Legends of Windemere

  10. I agree with Jaye. If a person isn’t naturally funny, trying to become one is hard and they often come off a silly. I like when people have a dry sense of humor. Using the root monsters to wrap up this series is a nice touch.

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  11. What a great post, Craig, you’ve given me much to think about. Life offers funny moments, just an expression can evoke lightheartedness. With your encouragement, I think I’ll play around with humor a little more. 😊

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  12. Great point about what we’re shaped into throughout childhood. I’ve found that a lot depends on the characters we create as well, in that Katie in my book Finding Katie had a lot of sass, and I found the humour and one-liners so much easier while writing her than I do for most other characters. A wonderful post with some great points. Thanks, Craig 🙂

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  13. Pingback: Expansion Pack: Comedy wrap up | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

  14. Hi Craig, thanks for all these tips about humour. I do have humour, I just always feel that only a few people understand it as it is a bit obsure. I know that I do have a little bit of humour in my books and I know where those bits are.

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  15. I’m one of those who don’t think I’m all that funny. You are very right that if you let the characters take over they can be quite funny.
    I love that the root monsters came from showing the magic. I am a huge fan of theirs:) Great post, Craig!

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