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Do you use humor in your novel? (1 Viewer)

hyphenman

Senior Member
If you do have funny scenes or funny exchanges, are they laugh-out-loud funny or "smile" funny? And who's doing the laughing or smiling, you or a reader?

If you don't have any humor, how come?
 

Tiamat

Patron
I'd say it depends on whether or not the situation calls for it. I'm working on a YA fantasy novel that has a few smile moments, but nothing even approaching laugh out loud funny.

On the other hand, I have the first draft if a chick lit novel finished, and there's quite a lot of humor in it.

Whether or not it's laugh out loud funny is up to the reader, and for that matter, that's something that's very hard to do with literature. I can think of maybe a half a dozen books that made me laugh out of the hundreds or even thousands that I've read.
 

dale

Senior Member
i constantly use humor. but most of the time, i think only a person who knows me would recognize it. i have somewhat of a dark
sense of humor.
 

Gamer_2k4

WF Veterans
I know I've laughed at parts in my story when rereading them, but mostly it's because of how a particular character is acting or reacting at a given moment. I don't really have any humor for the sake of humor, because I'm not a comedian. I'm funny, but it's spur of the moment, one-and-done kind of humor. That sort of thing doesn't really work in a book.
 

Sam

General
Patron
Humour doesn't really fit with my novels, but it's there where it's needed.
 
In appropriate moments I tend to use a witty sort of humor, usually it isn't the sort of thing that would make someone slap their knee in laughter, but maybe smile or think to themselves, How incredibly ironic!
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I like to follow up intense scenes with some humor. Shakespeare did this in his plays.

I believe that's where the term "comic relief" comes from. You use comedy to give the audience a relief from the dramatic tension.

I showed this scene from "Romeo and Juliet" to a friend recently and it reminded me of how funny Shakespeare was.

Here he follows up a super passionate, romantic speech from Romeo with Juliet blurting out something silly:


JULIET appears above at a window

ROMEO (in the garden below)


But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

JULIET
Ay me!

A good use of humor, in my opinion! After all that poetic gushing, Juliet just blurts out two words. :D
 

Eluixa

Senior Member
I'm not a comedian, that would be my husband and son. I tend to be unintentional comic relief. So, I'm guessing that if someone laughs at a scene in my book, it might be funny, but not because I set out to try for that reaction. I love it when someone can make me laugh out loud. It would be a happy day if I could return the favor, howsoever it happened.
 

hyphenman

Senior Member
My own take is that humor is no more or no less appropriate in a novel than it is in life. If a novel is to realistically portray life, whether past, present, future or imaginary, then humor should appear as frequently or as infrequently as it does in life.

I don't think it matters whether you are a funny person or not, the same as it doesn't matter whether you can write about murder without actually being a murderer. What matters is whether you can see humor, even in the unfunniest of situations. How many times have you heard someone say, or perhaps said yourself, "God must have a sense of humor"? That's because something oddly or darkly funny has just occurred.

If readers have to know you to appreciate your humor, what else must they have to know about you to appreciate what you've written?

Granted, humor is extremely difficult to pull off. But I think it's definitely worth the effort. You may not be reading books that make you laugh out loud, but you undoubtedly are experiencing or observing situations in your life that do.

My historical novel is about slavery, about as unfunny a subject as there is. Yet the story is filled with humor, practically every kind of humor: slapstick, puns, witty statements, and crude, obnoxious remarks. Some of the humor, I think, will make you laugh and then feel embarrassed or guilty that you did.

The beauty of humor is that it not only can provide "comic relief," it can capture the basic makeup of a character by showing how they use humor or respond to it. They could be the person making a joke or they could be the butt of a joke.

Because humor relies on timing, I think it's one of the best exercises there is to hone your skill at the rhythms, beats, and overall sound of your language.

If you're not proficient at it or not comfortable attempting it, the question then becomes whether you work at it or give up on it as being beyond your grasp. If you choose not to give up, I think the road to using it and eventually mastering it starts with baby steps, like a natural response to a question or situation that is unexpected but very funny.
 

Velah

Member
I used to think that I couldn't write humour to save myself. I'm comfortable with serious, have dabbled in dark, but when I thought of trying lighthearted it terrified me. Then I read 'Mogworld', by Yahtzee Croshaw, and thought, "Yes, *this* is a type of humour that appeals to me, I can do this." That's where 'Hell's Bells' (working title) was born, and you know what... I'm loving the process of writing it. More often than not I'm chuckling as I'm writing, and feel like I'm recording the antics of the main character as I watch them rather than struggling to think up funny things to say. With any luck that will come across in the writing, at least I can hope. :)
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
I never try to write funny scenes, but some scenes just turn out funny. I try to naturally flesh out characters, and if the situation allows it, that can lead the scene to be humerous. But I never use pinpoint jokes and the like. I'm more of an atmosphere guy, looking at the whole effect.
 

WriterJohnB

WF Veterans
I went for situational humor in one of my novels, where the princess and the soldiers swap bodies, then have a torrid love affair. It was somewhat of a spoof on the romance genre, and, besides the main characters, I invented a clueless, superstitious maidservant, a moronic giant who loved pretty girls and an inept wizard. One of my writing group members, an ivory-tower English Prof, said my humor was "unintentional," which sort of angered me. But he was just as obtuse when I wrote a story called cell phone, where a wall phone appeared in the cell of a condemned prisoner. The Prof said "Why did you name it "Cell Phone" when it was a wall phone?" Things tended to go over his head.

JohnB
 

Ditch

Senior Member
I believe that I once got chastised for pasting a part of my work when I felt it was appropriate to answering the thread. I believe the warning was along the lines of "promoting your work", but I may be wrong. I don't know if it's OK to just paste an example here or not.

But, to the point. In my opinion, humor is essential in all work, to a degree. My novels begin in 1614, but they too had a sense of humor. Humor can diffuse an extreme situation for just a second, showing that the main character is composed and has confidence in himself even in a life or death situation. In one of my books, a woman is desperate to book passage to the new colonies of Mexico from Spain because the king is about to have her killed. She books passage with a privateer, a pirate. The second time of the voyage that she hears the cannons fire she races to the deck of the ship and finds Yon Zack, the captain. He was running forward and she ran with him... "What is this? Are you attacking another ship?

"Is that what it looks like? he shouted, "No, we are inviting them to a dinner party."
 

HooktonFonnix

Senior Member
I try to use humor fairly often in my WIP. It's a SF/Action/Adventure novel with an involved plot, but humor does a really nice job breaking up the tension when things feel like they're getting just a bit too serious. It's a tone I established very early on in the novel, so it's something that the reader will be expecting throughout. I want my books to be taken seriously, but I also want them to be fun. In my opinion, semi-frequent humor is the way to go. The Harry Potter books are a good model of this.
 

Galen

WF Veterans
In one novel, one of the lead characters uses subtle humor often, in part to reduce tension, in part to make wry observations, it is part of his personality and he wrote it.

I do not consciously decide to use humor in my stories, the sense of humor comes from my characters.

I like humor in stories. Humor comes in a wide variety of styles. My characters reflect the limits of my humor since I can not tell a long humorous story, they settle for quips.
 

PaulMcElligott

Senior Member
I think humor is worth it, even in supposedly serious work, because it humanizes and promotes empathy for your characters. No one roots for humorless stuffed shirts. On the other hand, I'm sure it depend on your ability to bring it off. Not every one is blessed with the talent, and when people who aren't attempt it, the effect is often worse then not trying at all.
 

Scorcho

Member
Honestly. It's very hard for me to think of any story I've ever enjoyed that didn't contain at least SOME humor. I think it's necessary to break up the drama. If your whole book is one big ball of serious business, it all kind of runs together and the person doesn't get the feeling that some things are darker than others.
 

bluewolf301

Senior Member
i do sometimes but it depends on what my books are about because in some less violent, i do. but in the most violent i don't think that the violence entailed needs the humour to push the story line along
 

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