"People say I'm a horrible person, but that's not true. I have the heart of a young boy.
I keep it in a jar on my desk."
True confessions: I suck rocks when it comes to humor. I have friends, including this one to whom the medium comes naturally. I have to study and work at it a bit. Even then, it's a shaky endeavor. Anyway, as part of my recent study on this topic, I came across some fantastic notes I took at a SCBWI conference a few years back. Bruce Hale was the presenter and I thought I would share my notes from his session:
7 Rules for Writing Humor by Bruce Hale
1- Know your audience:
a. make the humor suit the tone of the story
2- Humor comes from character:
a. your character does not think they are funny -- they must be serious (or it is ruined).
b. create contrast between your characters and their world
c. take flaws to an extreme
d. humor thrives on conflict...create conflict between your characters
3 - Write for the set up NOT the punch line:
a. set up is everything
b. after your set up - delay payoff as long as you can
4 - Spring a surprise: (this is where Mr. Hale gave the Stephen King quote above)
5- Use the three point method:
a. establish the situation, create an expectation, pull a reversal
6- Good humor is good writing:
a. try different variations until you hit the right one....craft you humor carefully
7- If all else fails, tell the truth:
a. pointing out the obvious using one of the lines above can set up a beautifully funny moment in your manuscript.
I believe even the most serious or suspenseful read requires an occasional emotional break (i.e. laugh) What have you learned in your studies or experience about writing humor? I need serious help in this department and would greatly appreciate any insights!