We all know writing is about light and shade, moments of happiness and sadness, but how do you add those light moments to your novel if you’re not great at writing humour? Here are my top five tips for adding splashes of humour to your novel.
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Some of my favourite scenes in funny movies involve two characters (particularly in romcoms) bantering back and forth, wise-cracking and teasing. Dialogue like this is a great way to add humour to your writing. It can be between friends, or enemies, and the dreaded frenemies!
A couple of things though. It needs to be quick and witty and the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t is to try it! Just a word of warning: the one way writing differs from the screen is that sometimes we need the odd cue as to how a character is saying something and what their expressions are. We might see and hear it as writers but we need to make sure you readers are reading it the way we intended.
2. Comedy in prose
Comedy doesn’t just have to be in dialogue you can also add humour in your prose. This can be through character or setting descriptions. If you need a great example, I’d definitely suggest you read P.G. Wodehouse or M. C. Beaton. They’re both excellent at these. Let me give you two examples:
Here’s one from Wodehouse: “He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.”
And here’s one from Beaton: “Mrs. Wellington was wearing a voluminous flannel nightgown when she answered the door. Hamish was glad Mr. Wellington had found God, because it certainly looked as if he would need to wait until he got to heaven to get his reward.”
See what I mean?
3. Situational comedy
If your characters aren’t funny, put them in funny situations. Think of your favourite sitcoms, watch some and then decide how you can put your characters in funny situations. What situations will elicit a funny response from them. Maybe it’s something that makes them intensely uncomfortable, maybe it’s putting them with people who make them comfortable so they can be their true selves. Try it and see!
4. Not every page has to be a laugh-a-minute
Just remember that humour doesn’t have to be on every page. Every book needs light and shade so don’t worry about getting humour in every chapter. And, you don’t have to make us break a rib laughing. A book can still be funny if you’re not embarrassing yourself on the train by snort-laughing in front of everyone.
5. If all else fails throw in a fart joke. (And research!)
Seriously though, some people just aren’t naturally funny and that’s absolutely fine! Don’t try and force humour into your writing if it doesn’t feel right, or do some research to find the style of humour that works for you.
And do make some time to research. Watch your favourite comedians and learn how they make a joke. It doesn’t always translate to the written word, but everything helps! Just as with writing your first draft, you have to try different things to see what works.
Do you have any top tips to share? Let me know in the comments!
The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse – my latest read is out now!
Amelia loves her life in Paris. But with the surprise inheritance of her childhood home, she has no choice but to return to the small village of Meadowbank to restore her great-aunt’s old farmhouse. However, returning to Meadowbank means she has to confront her past, including old flame Adam, the one thing she regrets leaving behind.
When Amelia discovers a locket hidden in the farmhouse, containing the picture of a mysterious World War Two soldier, she starts to uncover the secrets of her great-aunt’s past.
With Adam on hand to help restore the farmhouse, she’s shocked by his generosity after so many years apart. As her feelings for her first love reignite, Amelia is suddenly confused as to where she truly belongs.
Can Amelia finally find where her heart truly calls home?
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