Thursday, August 24, 2006

Writing Funny

I get this comment sometimes from other writers - "I love your humor in your writing. I wish I could write funny."

Let me be the first one to set the record straight - NO, you don't!

Humor is hard, much harder to me than writing anything else. Why? Well, because humor is what's effected the most by life. If you're upset, depressed, sad, stressed, or just plain worn out, it's damned hard to be funny. The problem is, a book contract is not going to wait for you to have a Pollyanna sort of day - or six month frame to complete it. If you're out of funny, there's no well where you can go to draw more. You can't force humor either. It's just something that's there or not there. And when it's not there, your writing life is miserable.

Another problem is when you're on deadline, trying to produce humor and can't, you put pressure on yourself and get frustrated and guess what - it makes it even harder to write humor.

There are times when I wish I had taken up writing horror. I could always summon up a reason to kill ten people in a campground and carve them into individual parts. Having ten people be funny in a camp ground?????? A lot harder.

So when you read a funny book, when you see a funny tv show or movie, be aware that at some point and time that writer experienced a perfect balance in their life or the funny couldn't happen. And never wish writing funny on yourself - I haven't read a good horror book in years. That genre is just waiting for talent.


Holli Bertram said...

I hate to think about how many "humorous" books I've read where the funny just hasn't happened. Few writers can consistantly hit that sweet spot. I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of the first authors I remember reading where nearby heads turned because I laughed out loud.

Going back to an earlier topic - when will we be hearing more about this contest for the alligator purse?? This comes at SUCH a good time for me. I was teased unmercifully at Nationals about my old, worn Coach purse (hey, I thought it was a classic). I stand ready to do what I have to do to win this contest and perk up my purse image!

Jaye Wells said...

Humor is very tough. I can't tell you how many times I have agonized over one particular quip. A true master can make it seem easy. It never feels easy though.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Holli, on the purse. A Coach is a classic, don't let anyone tell you different!

Jaye - I think you've hit the nail on the head. When you read great humor it seems so effortless and everyone makes the assumption that the writer just "thinks that way." And while that has to be true, they can't think that way all the time or necessarily "on demand."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard "but you do it so naturally." Yeah, right. Nothing natural about it.

Kelly Parra said...

Jana, very good point! It is tough to be funny when you're feeling upset or frustrated or sad. And heck, some people aren't funny at all. *laughs*

Tori Lennox said...

I never try to write funny, but apparently I do. What irritates me is when I want to write dark and dangerous and deadly it tends to come out snarky and, apparently, funny. :)

Colleen Gleason said...

I'm one of those people who says I wish I could write funny--because I just love your stuff. It is funny--and you're funny in real life, too.

I know it's easier to write tragedy than it is to write comedy, which is why there are so many "comedic" novels that fall flat.

I'm with Holli--I don't find too many authors that consistently make me laugh. Elizabeth Peters, SEP, Jen Crusie, JD Robb's Eve Dallas, and now I can add Jana DeLeon to the list.

Jana DeLeon said...

Kelly - yes, I get exposed to some of those "unfunny" people every time I'm training. Makes you wonder what they do for fun.

Tori - I have the same problem. I say I'm not going to make it funny and then these one-liners come out that I can't help.

Thanks, Colleen!! You're a great fan and I really appreciate your support. And you should never, ever care if you can write humor - you do other things entirely too well to be bothered.

jon said...

I've been accused of being funny, but unfortunately the writing itself is horrid.

My technique is to take an ordinary, dull idea and then start pushing it's borders out towards the absurd and ridiculous.

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