Humor can be difficult. There is such a wide range of humor and what people find to be funny, it is difficult to pin down a concrete set of rules to go by. While that is true, it is also true that there are things that more people will find funny than others. I believe the root of successful humor is reality. Something we find funny is usually an exaggeration of reality.
I recently wanted an episode of “The Last Man on Earth” a show which I felt has gone downhill since last year. However, the last episode my wife and I saw came across as no where near the realm of funny but down right absurd. Now I’m not going to give away spoilers or details, but it came across to us as 4th-6th grade humor. I’m sure the comedy displayed on the show appealed to someone out there. After all it is still airing new episodes. For me it was so wildly sophomoric that I thought it was dumb and the furthest thing from funny.
This had me thinking about humor. As authors we need to convey a range of literary elements, and humor is one of them. When it comes to comedy, sometimes creativity doesn’t reign supreme. Instead, how funny something is has to do with reliability. We see the world through the lens of experience. Of course, not all experiences are relatable, and thus where the differences in tastes lies. That is okay, but when “comedy” crosses the line into implausibility and absurdity, that is when it becomes immature.
This is why over-reliance on fart jokes for a movie geared towards adults is typically frowned upon. Farting can be funny, but adults don’t relate to the idea that every fart is funny like a child would. For us writers, we must keep this in mind when we include comedic scenes. Not all my find our attempts at humor funny, but we should at least aim for the situation to be as relatable as possible.
I have said before that I am very nerdy. I love Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and many more fantasy stories. Part of being a fantasy writer is immersing myself into the genre and absorbing as much as possible.
One day my wife and I were talking about funny plots, we thought it would be hilarious if there was a story about a man who thought his wife was a Dark Lady of the Sith. This guy is so obsessed with Star Wars that he literally sees the story’s villains in his wife. He is unable to tell the difference between reality and fiction and after some time he loses his grip on reality entirely.
Since I didn’t want to deal with the copy write of Star Wars I changed Sith to witch. The plot was then about a man who was absolutely paranoid and convinced his wife is a witch instead.
However, as time went on and I got feedback from beta readers it became clear that it no longer worked as a comedy. That feedback also aligned with a gut feeling I had about it. So a complete overhaul has been in the works, and that means it is doubtful the book will be out this Fall. The delay will mean a much better book, which to me is worth it.
In the meantime, here is the working description for the novel: Gerald’s life changed a year ago, leaving him moody, exceptionally hungry, and scared. He lives in absolute terror every day. It isn’t the typical monsters like ghosts that terrorize him, but his very own wife! For reasons Gerald cannot fathom, she has become a witch bent on hexing her husband, or so he thinks. As he attempts to survive his wife’s curse and the difficulties that come with it, he discovers a friend who helps him along the way and a new town that feels like it was made just for him. While Gerald’s plight grows worse, he begins to document his experiences, but little does he know, his wife has been keeping a record as well.
I have said before that I am working on a new comedy, but I haven’t said much about what it is. Here’s a little taste:
“This has been a long time coming, but I have decided to at last record my life and experiences in this journal. I have wanted to do this for quite some time in hopes that someday others may understand and know what has transpired in my not-so-normal life. On the outside, it looks like I have a normal life. I work in an office and have a nice home and a brand new pick-up. My neighbors often see me working outside on projects, or mowing the lawn, but they have no idea what is really going on. I have to pretend there is no problem, I go to work and try to act normal, and even my wife doesn’t know what fear I face every day. Yes, I live in constant fear – fear of my wife. This is the first time I will have said or wrote anything about this, but I have reason to believe my wife is an evil witch.”
It is common knowledge that authors model characters after real people. The people in my life who inspire me most are my wife and my son, but others who have inspired my characters are my first boss, current friends, and former friends.KIDS: As I parent, I have found myself saying things that I never thought I would say to anyone. It’s crazy what kids will try! Each child is different, but each child is also very quirky because they haven’t learned the social and cultural norms. Expecting to say the unexpected has become routine for me, and that first-hand experience has inspired characters in my books, particularly Jori from Visions of War. It isn’t just my son’s quirkiness that gives me material to write, but his innocence and utter fascination with the world around him. Children have a special way of seeing the world. They haven’t been instilled with walls of skepticism, mistrust, and hurt. In a lot of ways, children are far more open to seeing things the way they really are, and I try to capture that in Jori’s character.
SPOUSES: I have told my wife numerous times that she has such a loving heart it seems almost inhuman. She is slow to anger and quick to forgive, and if I didn’t know her, I wouldn’t believe someone like that could exists in this world. Especially with this volatile political season, it is especially refreshing to have such a wonderful and loving person as my spouse. It is that very nature that inspired a few characters in the Goandria books. Several of the characters, like Evera, embody bits and pieces of my wife’s personality.
FRIENDS/FORMER FRIENDS: Unfortunately, most people endure at least one toxic friend in their lifetime. I have had a few people like that throughout my life. The pain and frustration from those friendships have been fuel for one particular character in my upcoming comedy. This character never apologizes, never takes responsibility, and his very presence negatively impacts the lives of those around him. I find this sort of character fascinating and tragic because he is essentially destroying his own life and doesn’t even realize it. I also find this kind of character to be very relatable because toxic relationships are surprisingly common. They may not be easily labeled as “evil,” but these sorts are often arrogant and dismissive of the effects they have on other people’s lives.
These are just a few people that have given me inspiration for my characters. What sort of people inspire you and your writing?
This is a working summary for my next book that will be out this fall. Let me know what you think! 🙂
Gerald’s life changed a year ago, leaving him moody, exceptionally hungry, and scared. He lives in absolute terror every day. It isn’t the typical monsters like ghosts that terrorize him, but his very own wife! For reasons Gerald cannot fathom, she has become a witch bent on hexing her husband, or so he thinks. As he attempts to survive his wife’s curse and the difficulties that come with it, he discovers a friend who helps him along the way and a new town that feels like it was made just for him. While Gerald’s plight grows worse, he begins to document his experiences, but little does he know, his wife has been keeping a record as well.