Friday, 6 April 2012

F is for...

Funny fantasy, and indeed funniness in general. As a writer of humorous fantasy fiction (see the side bar), one of my major goals as a writer is to make people laugh, yet how exactly does one go about doing so?

Well, one think I’ve learned is that you can’t please all of the people all of the time (especially not by trotting out clich├ęs like that). I write in a way that is very ‘English’ and I know that can put some people off even though others love it. When writing for laughs, you have to accept that a certain percentage of the audience won’t like your jokes.

The second thing to ask is where the humour is, and what form it’s going to take. Are you going for a shameless parody of a particular form (as Pratchett did to a certain extent in the Colour of Magic)? Are you satirising society? Are you just making some rather crude jokes about bodily functions? Does your humour come through in the dialogue or the situations, the characters or the setting? Often, my (major) characters aren’t inherently funny, because they’re fairly normal. They just end up doing and saying funny things in combination with one another. Robert Rankin or Toby Frost, on the other hand, will probably prefer characters who are inherently laughable (or at least parodies of specific things in the case of Frost. Read his Space Captain Smith stuff).

Then there’s the trickier matter of timing. That comes down to balancing the rate at which people will read it, using phrasing to slow down or speed up the reader’s attention until the punch-line. It’s hard to do, but not as hard as the most important thing in comedy, which is to be more than funny. A real plot is vital. A real story is vital. It can be silly, but it has to be there to do more than be silly. I tried to do this with Court of Dreams. I’ve tried even harder with the book I’m working on at the moment, to the extent that I’ve even toned down some of the jokes. Story comes first. If it can be funny too, that’s a bonus.

6 comments:

Julie Daines said...

Thanks for the great advice. I haven't really thought a lot about some of this stuff, so I enjoyed this post.

M.J. Fifield said...

I'd like to make my readers laugh too. I tend to take the dialogue/character route. Sometimes, I think it might even be successful.

fidel said...

Funny is good. Trouble is the humour can be too deep, if that is at all possible, and they don't get it...

KarenG said...

I love funny. Can't always do it well but enjoy when I read it. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! I'll be back-- new follower *waving*

KarenG

Simon Kewin said...

I love funny fantasy - I think I've read everything TP has written - but I'm not sure I'd put myself under the pressure to be constantly funny in what I write! Impressive you can do that.

Glad I found your blog. I'm now a follower.

Deniz Bevan said...

That was one of the problems I had with the LOTR films - they took a lot of the fun out. "My companion who, alas, is overcome with weariness..." I can't believe they didn't put that scene in!