I've been asked to write about this for a while now, probably because I'm never serious when chatting with folks, whether it's on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or in some other wondrous online place. (Yes, I'm online a lot. No, really, I'm NEVER serious.) I also want to write novels that are so very silly, they choke on themselves from laughter, albeit my first trilogy was soul-rending, but that's because I was going through shitty times. Now shitty times are behind me, and my 2nd novel, ROSEHEAD, is fully edited and in my hands! To those of you who pre-ordered it, you're so patient, thank you. I'll ship you a banana for patience, together with the book, in the same package. Just wait a few more weeks. I have to read it, send it for formatting, and it will be published. Anyway, in ROSEHEAD I have finally flexed my sarcastic muscle (there is one, it's close to your anus), and this is why IRKADURA was so hard for me to write. It felt too gruesome and bleak, so I injected 2nd draft with bitter sarcasm and magical realism. Cue Roald Dahl a la Stephen King, people! Anyway. My next novel after this, PAGE TURNER (not sure about the title yet, maybe it will be BOOK JUMPER) will be packed with sarcasm, because that's what I love, making fun of people and people making fun of me (didn't you figure it out by now?!?!). Ahem, of course, except those moments when I try to translate a Russian joke into English and it renders my audience speechless. NOT because they're struck by my genius. Some jokes just don't translate very well. By no means am I a comedian (I wish, I wish... there are so many awesome comedians on Twitter who put me to shame every day, my tired quips, oh well...), so I'll dish on you the things I do, and see if you can apply some of it to your writing, that is, if you want it to be funny.Read More
I've been indulging lately in humorizing ROSEHEAD in its 3rd draft to the point of my boyfriend reading it to me aloud and me laughing to tears. I mean, that's me laughing at my own writing. That's crazy, right? It's supposed to be a good thing though, correct? I think it is. I've also realized something else. No matter what your genre is or what kind of a book you're writing, one of the things you have to do is make your reader laugh. Chuck Palahniuk said it at one of his readings. He also said that there are other things you have to do: make your reader cry, make your reader sick, and make your reader smarter than you. That's a whole another topic, of course, so let's stay with laughter for now. Laughter, humor, sarcasm, satire, they should always be present, because even in the most tear-jerking and sobbing end-of-the-world and we're-all-gonna-die story the reader needs a breather, a smile, to feel good. That's exactly what humor does. I didn't see I've been doing it until my boyfriend pointed it out to me. On the other note, I read a lot, and I've been picking up humor here and there in all kinds of books, be it horror or romance or fantasy. I'm not an expert by any measure, but I was dying to share this with you, how I do it, to hopefully inspire you to inject more humor into your writing too. After all, if you make your reader feel good, they will come back to you for more of your writing, and that's what you want, right?
Have your characters say funny things with straight faces. I find dialogue is the best place where you can inject humor. Have your characters say outrageous things with a straight face and have others not get it right away. The thing is, your readers will get it first and they will laugh their asses off. Break up your dialogue with a remark from a character that has absolutely nothing to do with what's discussed at the moment. Or have them discuss something obvious with fervor, with seriousness reserved only for very serious topics. Monty Python folks do it the best. Watch them, read them. Or pick an idea and turn it on its head. Have characters talk about inanimate objects as if they are alive, and vice versa. Have your characters obsessed with some unimportant details that are hysterical, like their facial hair, or their toes, or the color of their shoes, or whatever strikes your fancy. Have every character possess some kind of quirk and have them discuss it or insert it in conversations when most inappropriate. My most recent example, from reading not anything but the genius amazing awesome THE HOBBIT, is Bilbo and his pocket kerchief. Remember how he stops the entire party of dwarves and seriously tells them that they can't go any further because he forgot his pocket kerchief and they have to turn around and get it? It's hysterical, right? Here you go, a hobbit obsessed with his little comfort things, his hobbit hole, his style of life, to the point of absurd.
Make your descriptions interact with the story. Every story happens somewhere, in some place, some city, some town. Make those things interact with the story like they're part of it. In my story, in ROSEHEAD, I constantly do things like: "Lilith grinned at the room. The room grinned back, and then winked, for an added effect. Lilith blinked and took a step back." All right, I don't have these exact lines in my book, I just made them up, but they're very similar. Here is another one, from a much more reputable source, THE HOBBIT again. When the adventurers waded into Mirkwood, there is a mention of the trees listening in on their conversations. It's not the description of the trees being fantastical beings, no, it's one of those instances where Tolkien injects humor, because the conversation was so intense that even the trees listened! You can do this with couches sighing under your characters, and TV's hissing at them, and shadows jumping from freight, and socks being lazy and unwilling to be stretched over feet, or the sun being mean and blinding people's eyes on purpose. There is a ton of dead objects that you can inject with life and make them funny. It will give an extra character to the whole story. My favorite thing to do lately, love it. Blame Terry Pratchett. I read too much DISCWORLD, that I did.
Make references to sex, cursing and profanities in a very obscure manner. Since we're talking about Pratchett, he is the master of that. I mean, in every book there is something somehow related to either the topic of sex or at least some mutual attraction between characters, unless it's a children's book and you're writing about kitties and puppies and such, although even there could be awkward moments of holding paws. Um. Yeah, let's not go that route. Back to the topic. There are also many moments that could make you want to use words like FUCK and SHIT and DAMMIT and BITCH and ASSHOLE and BASTARD and, well, I'm not American originally, so I don't know the full extent of the glorious profanities used here. There must be worse ones I'm missing. So, instead of proudly spelling them as they are, cross them out and make obscure references to them, the more obscure, the better. It will actually add more spice to your writing as opposed to using straight FUCK word. I like describing the things around the scene itself, or funny details, like, his ears went pink, or her eyes went round. I have a bit of chemistry and innocent love going on between a 12 year old Lilith Bloom and 14 year old Ed Vogel in ROSEHEAD. They kiss a few times and stare at each other longingly, but I always try to find a reference to what's around them that points to the awkwardness of the moment, and that makes it funny. Also, there is not a single curse word in the whole book, but Panther, the talking whippet, on occasion likes to swear, so I describe it as "he uttered a string of such profanities from which Lilith's ear typically shriveled and fell off", or something like that. And, well, read Terry Pratchett.
I kinda just now got that I'm delving into a very dangerous topic here I know nothing about, namely, comedy, and I better stop. I don't know how to write it, although I would love to, one day. I'm sure there are more glorious techniques out there. These three things are simply things I have been doing lately, and they have made me a very happy and laughing writer, and so I wanted to share them with you, of course. MWAH!