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Showing posts from September, 2019

What Makes You Laugh? #FridayReads

One of the aphorisms we hear most frequently is that humor is subjective. All comedians know this. A comic can kill an audience with laughter on a Thursday night and put another audience into a coma with the exact same jokes on a Friday night. Who can say why? Great humor allows us to recognize and laugh at ourselves…at our foibles, our prejudices, our unsustainable beliefs, even at our goals and aspirations. But it is difficult to find truly funny works of fiction that can resonate with universal audiences. I often think of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, one of my all-time favorite books. Most authors can only dream of achieving the success Amis had with his first novel, which won the 1955 Somerset Maugham Award for Fiction. I read it in high school, 12 years or so after its 1954 publication. I still have that first U. S. edition and keep it where I can see it just by lifting my head from my keyboard. That simple act makes me smile, because seeing Lucky Jim on the book’s tatter

Finding the Funny : Five Proven Ways to Add Humour to Your Story

Photo by Said Kweli from Pexels Unless your day job is stand-up comedy, delivering a punchline on command while you’re writing is almost as tricky as coming up with a perfectly timed repartee at a cocktail party (not three hours later, at home, when you’re trading your heels for a pair of comfy socks). But, unlike the uselessness of a perfect comment thought up long after the moment has passed, humour can be edited into a story at any point in the process. Here are five ways to find the funny. Make a Humour Heat Map Image via Wikimedia Commons Highlight the humorous passages in your manuscript in a way that suits you best. In a word processor you can use a text highlighting tool, change the font colour, or add a comment or note in the margin, either flagging these pieces as you write or going back to read for them at a later stage. (If you’ve sacrificed a tree, an old fashioned highlighter pen works just as well.) Once this process is complete, scan throu

Copping Out, Just a Little

The theme this month is humor. At first, I thought I’d copy and paste a scene from my book Hooked , but when I read it, it really was quite raunchy. Then I read the one and two-star reviews of that book. The readers thought it was too predictable and too sexy. (There are 69 five-star reviews too, by the way.) Well, yeah, it’s about a gorgeous ex-call girl. The funny character in the book is an oversexed hedge fund manager who owns a bordello. While naked, he’s being tempted by the beautiful call girl―a dream come true―and he spills coffee in his lap and gets a blister on his…well, use your imagination. It’s kind of a slapstick scene, and you either find it funny or you don’t. You see, there’s been a murder, and she’s working for the cops, and he’s just a schnook. When that turned out to be a dead end for blog post material, I started reading all my one and two-star reviews for the funny ones. There weren’t any. I got depressed and watched a movie. Then I thought, wait, how many ar

Laugh or Cry, Your Choice

This post was originally written and posted in September 2019, but in so many ways it is still applicable. This has been such a challenging ten months for so many of us since the first wave of the Corona virus brought us COVID 19, and now we're bracing for the second wave. How do we stay positive and upbeat through all the ways it impacts our lives? It was easier, I think, to deal with the challenges and limitations back in the spring when we thought they were short term.  We were positive. We were strong. We girded our loins and covered our faces and said we would get through this. We had no idea the pandemic would drag on this long and certainly didn't envision celebrating winter holidays without the usual family gatherings. For many of us, Thanksgiving was a bust, and the Winter Solstice Holidays, Christmas for me, aren't shaping up much better.   So, what do we do? Like I said back in September 2019, we can laugh or we can cry. I'll do my best to follow the advice I

A Sense of Humor is a Precious Gift

After a few weeks of patience-testing events, as in "life happens," it was a pleasure last week (here in September) to have a day when I could relax in my lawn chair and watch the neighbor’s half dead tree (a really big tree) get dismantled and dropped by one of those expert tree removal companies. Besides that, I had the arborist from my other favorite tree company stopping by to tell me how to take care of the new trees in our yard to get them ready for winter. In late April, I had visited a large tree farm and purchased two crabapple trees and a Sensation boxelder. Their guys planted the trees in June, and I had meticulously watered and inspected them according to instructions. They were looking great! The arborist arrived and I explained about the new trees and what I needed to know for fall and winter care. He looked at the trees and described the trunk wrapping and mulching process. As we were ending the discussion, I pointed to my boxelder and briefly explained our

Touches of Humor Relieve Stress in Tense Scenes

Like movie and television dramas, books may make one who is engaged in the story weary. A little bit of humor can provide momentary relief from the tension and perhaps coax a smile from the reader. The excerpt below demonstrates how low-key comic relief can work without digressing from the flow or story line.          “Why can’t we call the FBI or the police or somebody?” “And tell them what? We suspect your brother-in-law of being a jerk with a hidden agenda. We believe he sent his former mistress flowers. He spent years beating her, but she won’t own up to that little fact. Do you think they’ll take us seriously when we add we also believe the friend he recommended to us—and who is an excellent employee—is somebody other than who he says he is and has an ulterior motive for being here? Kohler Long and its management, of course, are above reproach. Sounds to me like a bad movie script.” “We can prove Rance Dillon is not the man’s real name.” Quin laughed. “I’m not sure that

Humor Isn't Just for Comedies

Source: Bored Panda I watched a horror movie recently which contained several laugh out loud moments. The movie wasn't satire or parody, but the main character had hilarious lines while navigating traumatic action. Humor released the tension gas pedal just enough without ruining the plot. If handled properly, humor can be utilized in any genre. Let's explore a few examples. In a Comedy, the plot thrives on the writer's ability to be funny. They must master plant and pay off. They learn to set up the joke, stretch it, then drive the punch line home or twist it. Rhythm is critical. It can't be one continuous joke or gag. It is important to know how to reign in the humor when needed. Con, Heist, and Prison Break stories have moments of great tension during attempts to achieve the plot goal. A few funny lines can break up the tension after a near miss or a play gone wrong. The main character or one of the secondary characters can be a smart aleck. In Fantasy, th

Writers Gotta Read, Right? Looking for Laughs

Since we are focusing on the humorous side of things this month at the Blood Red Pencil, it's only right that I provide some light-hearted reading possibilities for your consideration. Let's start with mysteries (because I am all about the mysteries). Stop, You're Killing Me! Has a great list of humorous mysteries . The list is alphabetical by author, starting with Douglas Adams and ending with Sue Owens Wright.  Parker Memorial Library (no relation!) in Massachusetts includes a list of humorous mysteries for you to peruse.  Listopia over at Goodreads has a Humorous Mysteries list also (of course!), with 227 books.   But that's NOTHING compared to the 2,916 books on the Listopia Humorous Romance Books list.  You can also check out the list over at Fiction Obsessed on Best Funny Romance Novels to Read . Image by Prawny from Pixabay To building family bonding over belly laughs, you might want to glance through one of the following lists:  Chr

Writing Workshops October to November 2019

Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop writing related events are a good way to commune with other writers. They are opportunities to network and get your name out there. In some instances, you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company. Local conferences are a good place to meet potential critique groups or recruit members. Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should choose an event that speaks to your needs and desires. October 1-13, 2019 Women Writing the West Conference, San Antonio TX. October 4-7, 2019 INd'Scribe Con and Book Festival,  Burbank, California    October 17-20, 2019 GayRomLit Retre