Thursday, October 29, 2009

Act II - The Case for Humor

Yes, it looks like they are all here.

I have assembled all the necessary ingredients to make a delectable dish I have in mind. Let me double check the recipe once more:
  • Characters - yes they are ready to swirl around in the mix
  • Setting - yes, I have an especially chilly one I will be using
  • Plot - yes, this will be necessary to plump up my dish
  • Conflict - yes, I have a dose or two to spice things up
  • Romance - of course I will need a sweetener
Oops! What does this say in small print?

  • Humor (optional)
What should I do now? Add it or do without?

Perhaps some research will help me decide.

Browsing, browsing. . . nothing in "Plot and Structure" by a Chef Bell. Ok, keep going.

Skimming, skimming. . . Chef Maas "Breakout" masterpiece might offer some advice. . . no luck.

Thumbing, thumbing. . . "Writing the Christian Romance" should have some answers, but alas, Chef Martin offers no chapters on the topic.

Hmmmmm. . . I have heard some good things about this ingredient. Several internet sources tout the many healthy benefits of including humor in the mix:

"Laughter has a powerful effect on your health and well-being. A good laugh relieves tension and stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity and problem-solving ability, and provides a quick energy boost. But even more importantly, laughter brings people together. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships."*

Benefits of Laughter and Humor

Physical Health Benefits:
Boosts immunity
Lowers stress hormones
Decreases pain
Relaxes your muscles
Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits:
Adds joy and zest to life
Eases anxiety and fear
Relieves stress
Improves mood
Enhances resilience

Social Benefits:
Strengthens relationships
Attracts others to us
Enhances teamwork
Helps defuse conflict
Promotes group bonding **

Wow! If humor can bring on all these reactions, I don't think it is optional any more. It is a necessity. I would love it if everyone that will be sampling my dish would come away with all of these powerful benefits. But how much should I add? and where? and how?

Here's where I need your help. I am just starting to feel my way around this brand new kitchen of novel writing. If you all could just make a quick trip to the store, your store of knowledge that is, and bring home some advice I would appreciate it.

Questions: Are you incorporating humor in your WIP? If so, how are you doing it? Do you have any books in mind that would address this topic.? How much inclusion of humor before your MS crosses over to romantic comedy genre?



  1. Hi Ava! Sounds like you've got something yummy on the menu.

    Comedy is outside the scope of my knowledge. I love it, but I don't think I could execute it very well. I did read something yesterday, that I cannot remember where though. Anyway, they mentioned to be careful and include humor that your audience can relate to. Different nuances belong to different ages.

    Keep up posted on this dish!

  2. I love humor and gravitate towards it in many ways. I agree it's a necessity!

  3. I did this much more in my first novel. I often juxtaposed it right near a scene with heightened tension to make it stand out.

    Jim Watkins wrote a book about incorporating humor into your book.

    Hope that helps.
    ~ Wendy

  4. I love humor in a novel. I plan on incorporating some into my new manuscript but I really don't know how well it will come off. I haven't read much on this topic. I hope it works out for you! Fun post, by the way ;D

  5. I definitely think we all need to be able to weave in humor in one form another, even if we're not specifically writing humorous fiction.

  6. I love humor! LOVE IT! I don't know of any writing books on it and I certainly am no expert on writing! :) Good luck with it though!

  7. Dear Ava: Jim Watkins' book called "Writing with Banana Peels" is a great resource on using humor in your ms. Find it at

    Another method I find helpful is to read humorous authors like James Watkins, Martha Bolton, Erma Bombeck and Philip Gulley. When you read those, it sparks your own sense of humor, then you are better able to be witty.

    I try to incorporate humor into all my work. Sometimes it's harder than other times, especially if the subject is challenging or I'm in a rough spot in my own life.

    I think humor is essential. And you don't need tons of it for it to be effective. Just sprinkle a little here and there to keep your reader asking for more...

  8. the funniest humor to me is people that can pull of a hilarious joke or comment with a straight face! (something I fail miserably at). It's kind of like fishing, (something I can do well). Just throw it out there and see what bites. Often, you have to stop and think about the joke before it pops in your brain, which make it all the more funny! Erma Bombeck was the best example I've seen on calmly telling a story and then unexpected throwing a funny punch line that takes you off guard and makes you laugh your insides out!

    BTW...I saw the skit you wrote. Hilarious! I think you understand humor just fine. Nice job...and the actors delivered it quite well, also.

  9. Tamika: Different audiences and different nuances is a good reminder. If you you run across the source again, let me know.

    T Anne: I could have guessed your attitude by the tone in which you write. It made me a fan immediately.

    Wendy: Thanks for the Jim Watkins tip. I will get busy researching.

    Cindy: Best of luck in incorporating it your material.

    Jody: That is the conclusion I have arrived at as well. Glad to hear we are like-minded.

    Sherrinda: Thanks for stopping by and so glad you are back.

    Jeanette: Thanks for the promising title. I agree with your philosophy on adding it here and there to keep the reader guessing as to when it will show up again.

    Jeff:So glad you enjoyed the skit. Enjoyed your comments and insight.

    Thanks everyone!

  10. Hi, Ava :) So nice to *virtually* meet you.

    I recently posted on this very topic. I had heard a saying "Don't put a hat on a hat", meaning - don't overdo when it comes to humor. Like your clever receipe analogy here, a dash here and there makes it perfect. Too much piled on top of itself makes it lose it's beauty.

    I don't mean to imply you can't have lots of humor in a novel, I just mean to be sly about how you drop it in. You know, make the reader feel smart and surprised.

    and that's my two cents ;)

  11. Hi Tess,
    Thanks for the two cents! I will go back and pick up that post and comments and see if it will help. I appreciate your stopping by.

  12. I LOVE to laugh! In fact I wrote two romantic comedies. Actually, I prefer to call them lighthearted romances just in case other people don't find them funny. LOL!
    There's a book called the Comic Writer's Toolbox:
    I haven't read it, but my friend LOVED it--and she's very funny. :)

  13. It borders on an impossability for me not to include humor. Although I have tried ;0


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