Many stories benefit from a touch of humor (and if you’re writing a funny story, it’s a must-have). Even the most serious novels, memoirs, or stories can use lighthearted moments to diffuse tension. When used correctly, humor can help hook your readers and keep them engaged. The experts know a few ways to flex your funny bone and enhance your writing with some humor.
Tips For Writing With Humor
Know Your Genre. It’s important to match the humor to the genre and story. Unless you’re writing an actual humor piece, limit the comedic touches to selective references. You don’t want the funny moments to completely distract readers from the jump-scares in your horror story or the tenderness in your romance novel. Be familiar with the tropes and conventions of your genre and its audience so you can play with norms and include humor that fits in well.
Use Conflict. As writers, we want to present our characters with challenges. Seeing how characters navigate their way through a struggle keeps readers interested. Throwing a serious, uptight character into a comedic situation can be very effective — as is throwing a comedic character into a serious one. Developing effective conflicts for characters is essential, and comedy can make it more memorable while revealing something about your character’s personality.
Surprise Your Audience. Contrast one moment in your story with what happens next. Following up a serious moment with some humor is a great way to take your reader by surprise. On the flip side, hitting your reader with something serious after some levity can also be powerful and will help your reader connect with what your character is feeling.
Funny Is Funny — Don’t Overthink It. To get those funny ideas and moments into your writing, you have to be in the right headspace. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself worrying if readers will find something amusing. If you see the humor in what you’ve written, odds are readers will find it relatable and also get the joke.
The Rule Of Three. Comedy works well in the “Rule of Three” pattern. Start with the setup and then surprise your audience with a punchline. An easy way to do this is to create a simple list: Come up with two similar ideas and then add a third…