Monday, August 31, 2015

How do you write humor? (And other questions I suck at answering)

When you're an author of risque romantic comedy, people like to ask you the secret to writing humor. I actually kinda wish they'd ask more about the "risque romantic" part of the equation, because I could totally nail a question on how to get your rocks off.

(Incidentally, did you guys see the video my husband and I did when we launched Protector for Hire? In case you didn't, here's how to get frisky in the forest):

But back to the original question about writing humor. I fumble a bit when I'm asked how to do it because it's not something I feel qualified to instruct someone in executing. While I'm comfortable teaching workshops on social media strategies for authors or how to remove your bra through your sleeve, I'm not sure I can tell anyone how to be funny.

What I can tell you is that I once waxed off my own eyebrow by mistake and then tried to draw it back in with eyeliner. I didn't realize until I got to work that I'd used green eyeliner.

I also went to a fancy luncheon once and spit gristle into my napkin, then forgot I'd done it and dropped the gristle into the designer handbag of the woman seated next to me. I got caught trying to fish it out, which was only slightly less embarrassing than the time I attended a different fancy luncheon and shoved a heaping spoonful of butter in my mouth because I thought it was whipped cream.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Because the fact that I'm a magnet for absurdity is really the only thing I can point to as the secret to writing believable comedy.

The handy thing is that I can mine from my own life when it comes to writing my novels. There's a scene in my newesest romantic comedy, About that Fling, in which the hero and heroine attempt to have a private conversation in a video booth at an adult arcade. While I'm not saying real life unfolded quite that way for me, there's a reason I knew how things were likely to play out in their situation.

There's another scene involving a discussion about toilet paper, an incident that came straight from my husband's life (which I suppose you could take as a lesson that it's smart to marry someone who is also a magnet for ridiculousness, but I digress).

Reviewers for  About that Fling have also been zeroing in on the more serious undertones in my story. In their a starred review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted:

"There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand in this laugh-out-loud story with an ending that requires a few tissues." 

While the humor is undeniably mine, I'll admit the heartache is, too. Those of you who've followed this blog since its inception in February 2010 know how I cycled from happily married to unexpectedly divorced to dating again and eventual remarriage. Pieces of that experience make up the core of this book, and it's not all giggles and gropes. Sometimes, happily-ever-after doesn't happen the way you hoped it would, and there's a lot of funny, heart-wrenching stuff you'll encounter in your journey to get there.

So I'm not sure that answers the original question about humor, but it does fill up a whole blog post, so there's that.

If you haven't nabbed About that Fling yet, you can find eBooks, paperbacks, and even audiobooks here. In the four weeks the book has been part of the Kindle First program, I've been elated to see it peak as high as #2 on Amazon's "Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store" list, and anyone neurotically watching the stats (er, just me) would have noticed it's stayed pretty consistently in the top 10 or top 20 with one small dip to #22.

Considering the best ranking I'd previously had for any of my books was around #130, that's kinda impressive.

So go out there and grab the book. Then shove a spoonful of butter in your mouth and wax off your eyebrow. It'll make you funny, I swear.