Sunday, April 23, 2017

Playing the Fool

I love weaving comedy into my writing, no matter what the subject matter or how dark the book is in theme or plot. For me, my characters’ sense of humour is a huge part of what makes them 3D characters rather than people just reacting to events and dialogue going on around them. What I find difficult, however, is giving them a sense of humour which is different from my own. When writing characters, I can see how their thought-processes work differently to my own and how their past experiences would shape the way they act, but when it comes to humour, I find it tricky to look past what I personally would find amusing!

So how do you alter your sense of humour or adopt someone else’s? One trick that I find useful is: watching stand-up comedy! This is probably one of the most fun parts of ‘research’ (my husband would probably argue that this isn’t work… and I’d probably agree…) but watching stand-up comics who I wouldn’t seek out usually is a sure-fire way to witness multiples types of humour. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit there with a notebook, trying to analyse why they’re making a certain joke or why it’s funny, I just absorb the way they’re moving and speaking and hope that their physicality and thought-processes might seep into my characters who I wish to have a different sense of humour to myself. Of course, humour is such a spontaneous thing that you don’t want to study comedy so much that, low and behold, all the funny leaks out of it. At the end of the day, we all know that if you have to explain why something’s funny… it just ain’t funny.

My own sense of humour is quite sarcastic, I think, so many of my characters end up also being sarky. This is something I try to watch out for, and by forcing other types of humour into different characters it makes them more well-rounded individuals rather than just spin offs of myself.

Once I’ve decided on my characters’ types of humour, I re-read what I’m working on to ensure they haven’t simply become caricatures. Although we all have differing humours, no one is simply ‘one thing’, and we all adapt to who we are with. For example, most of us will demonstrate our humour in a different way around our parents than we would with our friends. So I try to make sure my characters are utilising humour in a way that seems real and authentic to their personality and their company.

And if a little bit of my own humour creeps in to my characters then that’s OK. Because at least I know there’ll be one reader who will find it funny….

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