Monday, March 4, 2013
MAKE THEM LAUGH by Rita Karnopp
We’ve all heard it, write a book that makes your reader feel; laugh, cry, fear, yearn, and make them so invested they think about your book long after they have read ‘the end.’
Ask yourself did you laugh or giggle while writing a certain scene? What agents, editors and readers love above all is wit. Remember, wit is not exactly humor. If we laugh reading a scene where a woman is splashed with mud by a passing car, but that’s humor and takes no intelligence to perceive. Wit is more of a brain thing.
We laugh when something happens so unexpectedly and puts a person in an awkward, even absurd situation. I wrote a scene in one of my historicals where the heroine insists the hero put her down … and he does – right in the dung sloshing mud. Two drunks try to help her up . . . and it is one hilarious scene. I laughed while writing it – and it’s my hope the reader will be laughing when reading it.
That’s what we have to do . . . put all our emotions into our writing and it will bleed onto the pages.
So what if you just don’t know where to put wit or humor? Sometimes the wit comes in the form of sarcasm or a play with words. The series Castle the play of words is my favorite part; add character to Castle and the entire plot. Do you remember the movie Placid Lake, a guy picks up a thumb between his index finger and thumb, hands it to the sheriff and asks, “Is this your friend?” The sheriff responds, “No, he was taller.” You have to admit, it is clever, witty, and adds spark to the scene.
Sometimes it’s a physical calamity. In the scene with the gal, with the long, expensive dress, being dropped into the mud . . . it wouldn’t have been half as funny without the drunken brothers trying to help her up. Expand on an already present scene and capitalize the moment to add something ‘extra’ to it.
For wit look for opportunities to incorporate small, believable inconsistencies. Like a character who is so smart book-wise and so dumb people smart. Consider the professor of art that can’t figure out how to work his cell phone, the successful entrepreneur who can’t start a campfire, or the child psychologist who can’t control his four-year-old. For humor take advantage where comic relief or just a good ole’ giggle will make a scene special.