October 2, 2013

Writing Club Wednesdays: 10 Tips On Writing Humor

Hi Misfiteers!

I hope everyone's having a good week so far. It's HUMP DAAAAY!

So, humor is hard to pull off if the stars don't align just right. It's something a lot of writers struggle with (me included) but that doesn't mean we can't be funny! I'm going to preface this list by saying I'm no expert, but I'm just going to share what works for me.

So, here we go.

10 Tips On Writing Humor

1. Watch actors' timing on TV or movies - If you watch Saturday Night Live or any type of comedy one thing that is extremely important (other than the writing, of course) is timing. Watch how the actors interact with each other and how they react. You'll see that timing has a lot to do with why we think something is funny. The entire Friends cast had impeccable timing IMO.

2. Don't be afraid to be ridiculous. Some of the funniest stuff I've read is unusual and unique.

3. Appeal to the human in all of us. One thing that Ellen DeGeneres does well is relate to people. Her stand-up is basically just stuff that people do every day but she makes it funny in her own way.

4. Don't underestimate the power of sarcasm. This should be used sparingly, but when inserted in just the right scene it can be hilarious.

5. Exaggerate. If you pair this with sarcasm the result can be seriously funny.

6. Amplify what's going wrong in a scene and make your MC suffer comically. 'nuff said.

7. Humiliate your characters. This is similar to the one above. Sometimes you don't even need dialogue, just have them fall or embarrass themselves.

8. Use your own situations or situations you've seen or been in. Most of us have had embarrassing moments or situations where we wanted to crawl under the table and die. Use this!

9. Humility can be funny and also endears us to your character.

10. Be specific. The more unique you make your humor the funnier it is.

So those are my tips. What about you? Any to add?


Anna Gergen said...

I would add that organic humor is almost always funnier than forced humor. Whenever I'm writing and I think, "Okay, something funny should go in here," it usually doesn't end well for me or for my characters.

Marianne Knowles said...

Erica, thanks for a helpful and, in my case, timely post!

Anna, I agree that forced humor comes out forced. But I've also found that, given time and repeated revisions, the humor of a specific point in the action can reveal itself organically. Speaking as one who's had multiple critiquers say, "Something funny needs to go RIGHT HERE." I'm waiting for that humor to reveal itself... hopefully sooner rather than later! But it has before, and hopefully will again.

erica m. chapman said...

Great point, Anna! Thanks for stopping by ;o)

My pleasure, Marianne! YES! I could see that too. I've actually changed stuff due to timing before ;o) Thank you!

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