August 31st, 2016

  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab

Writing Excuses 11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab


Q&A Summary:
Q: How do you add humor to a serious story without breaking the mood or how do you inject humor into a dramatic scene without breaking the building tension?
A: Humor can be a good pressure valve, to deflate just a bit. You can also have humor fall flat. If a joke relieves tension but makes the situation worse, you have relieved pressure and moved forward. Watch for gallows humor and similar emergency relief.
Q: My sense of humor consists only of dad jokes. How do I get real humor into my writing?
A: Really good puns are doing multiple things in a scene. Read better humor. Make sure the humor suits the context.
Q: How do you make sure your humor is really funny and not just funny to you?
A: Have other people read it.
Q: How does the culture of the world you write in influence the humor?
A: Pay attention to folktales, idioms, and humor. Watch for shared context jokes. Use jokes to tell the reader about the culture.
Q: When is humor necessary in horror? Can you write a horror book without humor?
A: Yes, you can. But you miss all the great jokes. And horror can be darker with a humor contrast.
Q: Where/what is the line between a book whose purpose is to be comedic and a book that could have funny parts in it?
A: Right through Terry Pratchett. What is your book driven by?
Q: How do you make dialogue sound natural but still funny?
A: You may not be able to. Funny and natural is usually character-based, while funny and wordplays are sometimes not very natural. See who can tell that joke naturally. Watch for natural cadence, and see where the joke fits. What function does this serve in the plot? Why would this character say this?
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[Brandon] We are going to end with a writing prompt. Howard?
[Howard] I came up with this 3 1/2 minutes ago. Write a joke and have each of your characters tell that joke. Find a way for them to tell that joke in their style.
[Brandon] That is perfect. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.