Sunday, August 24, 2014

Humor in Writing (1 of 4) - Overview

First a message to my future self: I was aware of what I started here and I know that you will have a hard time to write the following posts about humor. So stop whining and get them to paper.

Writing humor is definitively easier as writing about how to write humor, and then again probably not. While I might laugh about my own jokes, others might not and especially in writing the direct feedback link is missing. A writer doesn't know if his jokes are appreciated. Beta readers, editors etc. might give hints for the biggest no-go's, but they are an already biased population.

However, humor is such an important instrument of a writer, that I want to give a little more insight in when and how to use it in your writing, spread over different blog posts:

  1. Overview
  2. Theory (components, methods)
  3. Learn from the best (dissection of good examples)
  4. Where and how to apply humor in your own writing

As you might already have notices we are in the middle of the overview, but before going further, let me define humor. Depending the source, there are different definition of humor out there, but all have the same common element: amusement and laughter.

As a summary (and for the purpose of this blog post) I can say that humor is something that makes us laugh.

But why do we want our readers to laugh? Humor and laughter are as important for human beings as love and company. We are social beings and humor is a way to connect with people in a positive manner. People who have the ability to be funny receive positive attention and admiration and quite often can smoothen awkward situations. 

However, there is more to it. Laughing has a crucial psychological component. It helps people to cope with stress, misery and sometimes even with pain, acting as an outlet.

In all this definition lies the power of humor for a writer. You can 

  • write a humorous story which only purpose is to make people laugh
  • use a humorous story to transport a deeper message or to critique an existing situation.
  • use a certain humor style to define a character's voice
  • use humor for pacing - similar to the humor's outlet role in psychology
  • use humor to spice up your writing in general

In that sense, happy laughing
Your writer in a foreign land

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