Saturday, November 24, 2018

How I Write Humor

I had a friend reply to my newsletter the other day, and one of the questions she asked me is how I write humor. That really made me think, and I told her I might have to make my answer into a blog post. So this one's for Katja.

Humor is actually really hard for me. When I first began writing Martin Hospitality and knew I wanted to see the story through to publication ... I lost my ability to write humor.

What if it's lame? This became a fear for me, so I hesitated to do anything semi-funny. I resorted to a little teasing and some sarcasm. But even then ... What if it's overused? And trust me, sarcasm can be overused.

I still wouldn't say I write a whole of humor. I'm never going to be a comedy writer--it's not my gift. At the same time, no one wants a boring, lifeless manuscript.

So these days, I think these are some things that helped me find my own happy humor medium (see what I did there?)

  • I let my own sense of humor be part of my author voice.
  • I've loosened up to worry less about it being lame.
  • If it is lame, make it lame for the characters!! *MC 1: makes a bad joke* *MC 2: rolls his eyes*
  • Humor doesn't have to be character humor; it can also be in the way you present information (again, find your own sense of humor as part of your author voice).
  • I have to trust my own judgment over what humor ideas to follow.
  • I typically create my humor mostly be playing devil's advocate in my head as I write (this often turns into a sarcastic reply from a character).
  • Play to the flaws in a line of dialogue!! I love seeing other characters nitpick at a loophole for misunderstanding.
  • ^AKA worry less about perfect writing and have fun with it
  • When in doubt, write it. Your alpha/beta readers will laugh if it's funny or tell you if it stinks.
I'd say that being funny still doesn't feel very funny to me as a writer. But overall, those things above help me achieve a balance that I'm not too embarrassed about. Let's say I wouldn't enjoy reading my books aloud (or hearing them read aloud). But as long as the readers like it, I'm happy.

It comes down to finding something you're comfortable with and that furthers the story, character, shapes your voice ... It's a useful tool, and there's no one way to master it!

Have fun finding your humor style! Teasing, sarcasm, joking, outlandishness, good turns of phrase, dialogue ... It's really an open playing field. Just don't overthink it.
Now I'm curious. xD How do you write humor?

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  1. Wow, very good advice, Abi! The way I write humor best is by observing my own little siblings and the way they interact. Very humorous! XD And having young characters in my books helps me have the most fun adding humor into the stories. But I'm going to have to take some of your advice and try them out. Thanks for sharing! ♥

  2. Interesting post! I write a lot of humor (a lot of satire pieces). Comedy is a huge part of my writing, but I don't really like deep sarcasm, but actually laughable humor.

  3. I actually don't write a lot of humour, now that I think about it xD I think it's mostly because I don't write funny characters. Although I do have some good sarcastic ones xD but anyhow, excellent post! <33


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