Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by Shann » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:09 am

I shouldn't butt in on Jan's thread, especially since it's slightly off topic, but I've noticed it quite a bit as I read the entries this week, and I don't think many people realize this. When you, Trace, said you'd been already working on an article, it reminded me of something I've addressed elsewhere. It's not a big deal at this point, but I wanted to let you know for the future that one of the submission rules for the challenge is this:

All entries MUST be conceived and written AFTER the topic is announced. No previously written material, published or otherwise, should be submitted. This is because the Challenge is designed to act as a tool to help writers develop their ability to write to topic, deadline and word count.


Because I was blessed to be a part of the testimony contest, I noticed that several people used their testimony article as an autobiographical entry. I know that those who did it, did it innocently and most were new to FaithWriters. Like I said before, don't worry about it this week if you've already submitted. The idea of the challenge is to help one learn to write with a limited amount of time and to write on a specific topic. It sounds like you had the idea and maybe had written some of it, and then saw it would fit the challenge and finished it. It's okay if you take something old and totally switch it around, rewriting it in a different way. I did that once by taking a poem I wrote and switched it into a story. Some of the main themes were still there, but I totally revamped most of it, so it was considered a new story.

I hope you don't mind that I mention that here Jan. Trace's comment reminded me and I know your thread gets a lot of visitors. Maybe it is even something you could expand on some time about how to rewrite an older story to make it pop or reinforce an important message. I know it's not easy to do as I've tried it before. :thankssign
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:41 pm

TracePezzali wrote:
I love drama, so am keen to create some strong characters who are funny in themselves, and then give them some situational comedy and word play to work with. My main comedy focus is therefore on creating monologues and skits. I find different accents work well as a starting point, and different ideas follow working on that accent. My poor children have no hope of NOT being dramatic - I'm walking around the house for hours at a time practicing some new voice. They don't even raise an eyebrow they are so used to it. Maybe it could help them in the future somehow - class comedians with a good repoitre of voices themselves...
Monologues and skits are something that we don't get a lot of on FaithWriters, and they're very welcome here. I know that the judges are always grateful for something that's a change of pace from the usual. Looking forward to reading some of yours!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:09 pm

itsjoanne wrote:
Another favorite- mostly situational humor and exaggeration (and understatement): http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=18502
Joanne, thanks for mentioning exaggeration and understatement--I didn't think of those for my lesson, but they're GREAT tools for humor!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by RedBaron » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:16 pm

I've written a few funny ones over the years. Some funnier than others :) And I found some typos in them as I read them again - :oops: blah lol. (Forgot about the info lol)

Here's a few of my favorites

A Destiny to Fulfill - I used several plays on words for this one, with a twist ending.

Till the Cows Come Home This one took a scripture passage and applied it to a more contemporary setting of everyday farm life, with a hint of my Grandpa in the main character and took some things that had happened - like his slapping an annoying person who showed up at the door on the shoulder with grease on his hands. I went with a lot of visual humor with the kids.

Heroes of <b>Bold</b> Punny stuff in a poem

Rubber Duckie Taking a real event and expanded on the spiritual aspect, while keeping a light and fun tone.

Cleaning Up Took some real life experiences of both myself and a family friend to make an exaggerated disaster.
Last edited by RedBaron on Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:19 pm

RedBaron wrote:I've written a few funny ones over the years. Some funnier than others :) And I found some typos in them as I read them again - :oops: blah lol.

Here's a few of my favorites

A Destiny to Fulfill

Till the Cows Come Home

Heroes of <b>Bold</b>

Rubber Duckie
Shari, can you talk a little bit about one or more of those, and what your process was, or what you did to make them funny?
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by GeraldShuler » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:51 pm

Loving a Writer Ain't Easy http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=35121
The Way to a Man's Heartburn http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=78440

Jan, I am sharing two of my stories with a question about them: Is it common for humor to stem from heartbreaking situations? In both of these stories I noticed AFTER they were written and submitted that their humor was a direct contrast to the harsh emotion of the situations. Feeling unloved (in the first story) and jealousy (in the second) are definitely NOT funny. Several other stories submitted to this lesson seem to show the same tendency. Would you mind commenting about that?

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by glorybee » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:54 pm

Gerald, what a great question!

Since part of humor is contrast or unusual juxtaposition or the unexpected, I think it's VERY common for writers to write in such a way that humor is found in situations that are not inherently humorous. In fact, to get humor out of a situation that IS inherently funny or positive (a children's play, a surprise party, the circus), writers almost always have to turn the situation around and insert a little bit of tragedy--a catastrophe or some other twist. It's just not very interesting to have a situation that is SUPPOSED to be funny unfold exactly as expected.

Since I've started writing and have collected a circle of writing friends and acquaintances, I've noticed that many of them (including myself) experience varying degrees of depression. I've even asked some of them about the role that depression has in their writing, and have heard from several people (and I concur) that sometimes their funniest work has come in the midst of a depression. It may be "dark" humor--but there's something about depression that (at least in my case) makes me more finely attuned to find humor in the midst of sorrow (or any other negative emotion). Of course, really severe depression can cripple a writer altogether. There seems to be a certain point of "optimal" depression where humor writing can flourish.

I'm certainly not rejoicing that I (or other writers) am often depressed--just stating what I've observed.

Gerald, what do you think?
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by oursilverstrands » Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:28 pm

Jan wrote:For the rest of this quarter, I’ll try to post a lesson each Saturday that goes with the Writing Challenge topic of that week. You might want to hold off on writing something right away when it’s posted on Thursday morning and check this forum for clarification and suggestions on Saturday.
I wish I could add to the discussion, but I'm one of those people that you describe in your opening paragraph. On a humor scale of ten to minus twenty, I'm right there at the bottom. And if I do decide to jump in, everyone will agree (I had an idea, but it seems SO absurd). But I love the idea of a "lesson each Saturday" for the week's Writing Challenge. What a gift!

Thanks,

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by glorybee » Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:35 pm

lish1936 wrote:
I wish I could add to the discussion, but I'm one of those people that you describe in your opening paragraph. On a humor scale of ten to minus twenty, I'm right there at the bottom. And if I do decide to jump in, everyone will agree (I had an idea, but it seems SO absurd). But I love the idea of a "lesson each Saturday" for the week's Writing Challenge. What a gift!
Lillian, write your idea, even if it's SO absurd. What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't place? That's true for almost every story, every week. What's the best that can happen? You make someone smile at your silly, absurd thought. Go for it!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by Shann » Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:39 pm

glorybee wrote:Gerald, what a great question!

Since part of humor is contrast or unusual juxtaposition or the unexpected, I think it's VERY common for writers to write in such a way that humor is found in situations that are not inherently humorous. In fact, to get humor out of a situation that IS inherently funny or positive (a children's play, a surprise party, the circus), writers almost always have to turn the situation around and insert a little bit of tragedy--a catastrophe or some other twist. It's just not very interesting to have a situation that is SUPPOSED to be funny unfold exactly as expected.

Since I've started writing and have collected a circle of writing friends and acquaintances, I've noticed that many of them (including myself) experience varying degrees of depression. I've even asked some of them about the role that depression has in their writing, and have heard from several people (and I concur) that sometimes their funniest work has come in the midst of a depression. It may be "dark" humor--but there's something about depression that (at least in my case) makes me more finely attuned to find humor in the midst of sorrow (or any other negative emotion). Of course, really severe depression can cripple a writer altogether. There seems to be a certain point of "optimal" depression where humor writing can flourish.

I'm certainly not rejoicing that I (or other writers) am often depressed--just stating what I've observed.

Gerald, what do you think?
You're right what a great question and a delightful answer. I totally relate. It's one of those if I don't laugh I'll cry feelings. That has given me new insight and maybe an idea will come to me after all. Thanks to you both.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by rcthebanditqueen » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:10 pm

glorybee wrote:
lish1936 wrote:
I wish I could add to the discussion, but I'm one of those people that you describe in your opening paragraph. On a humor scale of ten to minus twenty, I'm right there at the bottom. And if I do decide to jump in, everyone will agree (I had an idea, but it seems SO absurd). But I love the idea of a "lesson each Saturday" for the week's Writing Challenge. What a gift!
Lillian, write your idea, even if it's SO absurd. What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't place? That's true for almost every story, every week. What's the best that can happen? You make someone smile at your silly, absurd thought. Go for it!
I agree, Lillian! Write it! Write it! Image

(hope the little cheerleader got in there correctly)

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by GeraldShuler » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:52 pm

glorybee wrote:There seems to be a certain point of "optimal" depression where humor writing can flourish.

I'm certainly not rejoicing that I (or other writers) am often depressed--just stating what I've observed.

Gerald, what do you think?
I think you hit the nail on the head (which is a cliche, breaking the writer's law about not using cliches, which is in itself very painful and depressing.) I really can't think of very many examples of GOOD humor that isn't in some way attached to emotional conflict of some kind. I wonder if anyone can share a humorous sample that does NOT have a conflict? Even children's stories have conflicts like the big, bad wolf huffing and puffing or the gingerbread man running for his life. I had just never realized the depth of it before this lesson.

Thanks for your time in responding, Jan.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by wheelygirl58 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:33 pm

Joanne, I love your "Care for an Apple?". It was wonderful, I laughed and that something we all do need!! :thankssign Keep up this excellent work! :clap
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 This is,another of my life verses!!

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by oursilverstrands » Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:58 pm

rcthebanditqueen wrote:
glorybee wrote:
lish1936 wrote:
I wish I could add to the discussion, but I'm one of those people that you describe in your opening paragraph. On a humor scale of ten to minus twenty, I'm right there at the bottom. And if I do decide to jump in, everyone will agree (I had an idea, but it seems SO absurd). But I love the idea of a "lesson each Saturday" for the week's Writing Challenge. What a gift!
Lillian, write your idea, even if it's SO absurd. What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't place? That's true for almost every story, every week. What's the best that can happen? You make someone smile at your silly, absurd thought. Go for it!
I agree, Lillian! Write it! Write it! Image

(hope the little cheerleader got in there correctly)
Okay, Jan and rcthebanditqueen, I accepted the challenge and wrote my piece. For a humorless person like me, it seemed quite funny. But that should put you on notice. :lol:

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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be a Better Writer--HUMOR WRITING

Post by CatLin » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:54 pm

Catching up - and commenting collectively on a some previous posts. :)

Thinking back on my own "humorous" stories, most (all?) stem from a tragedy of some sort, including my most recent challenge entry. I find that I tend toward sarcastic humor a lot, and most of my stories contain some element of sarcasm, regardless of the genre. (I'm pretty sure that says a lot about me.)

Some examples I meant to be humorous .....

For the first "Humor" challenge, I racked my brains for days and couldn't think of a thing. So I told God, "I really need your help - What should I write about? Tell me and I'll do it." Noah. That's what he said. So I did.
The Last Laugh

For the Hot and Cold challenge, and I see by re-reading my comments this one is an EC. :P The humor is understated and, yes, a bit sarcastic. :)
I'll Have What She's Having

My "Achievement" challenge entry was fun to write. The humor is silly, slapstick, and pirate-like. :)
[http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=42134]The Quest for Abundant Treasure[/url] (I just scanned my comments, and this one is an EC too! Awesome. :lol:

Thanks for these lessons, Jan!!!! Sorry this is so late, I've been in procrastination mode. This window has been open for days waiting for me to drop in links to examples. :roll:
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