Our upcoming chat is about writing humor! Check out Robin Lovett’s post on the struggle to be funny.
I think I’m pretty funny. I don’t know if others would agree or not, but I think I am. Or at the very least, I’m silly, which is close enough. When writing, I try to imbue a light-hearted sense of fun into my stories, to balance out the deeper feelings that come up for the characters. The ability to infuse your writing with humor is all well and good, but alas, this is where killing your darlings comes in.
Humor isn’t appropriate for every character. I recently wrote a taciturn hero—or at least, that was the goal. In early drafts, he was too chatty, too pleasant, too quick to make a joke. When revising, I cut a lot of his dialogue and jokes, turning them inward and upping his internal angst. It wasn’t fun to make him more withdrawn and reticent, but his eventual vulnerability was that much sweeter for it.
Another place where I have to cut the humor is sex scenes. I’m great at ruining the moment with an ill-timed joke. After spending pages building up the tension between the characters, I’ll add a bit of dialogue that completely ruins the moment. When I backtrack to find where the scene went wrong, it’s usually where one of the characters makes a joke, breaking the tension and intimacy I spent so much time carefully crafting. Once I delete it and give myself a stern talking-to (Thou shalt not ruin hot sex scenes with stupid jokes), I can get the characters back to the task at hand. *wink*
Inside-jokes are another inappropriate form of humor that don’t usually make it into the final draft. My cousin and I have a running gag about “eyeing each other warily.” I throw that phrase into every first draft, send her a screenshot, and then delete it later. (Sorry, K.) Yeah, it’s fun, and maybe you’ll give your CP a giggle, but cut that stuff before you submit. And no, I won’t tell you the origin of the joke.*
Romance novels juggle heavy emotions and dark backstories with enough hope and humor to keep us reading until the HEA. If possible, we want to make our readers laugh as well as cry. I like a healthy dose of humor in the books I read and write, but keep in mind what’s appropriate to the characters and the story. A little humor goes a long way, but too much humor can go…too long. And there’s nothing funny about chafing.
How do you handle balancing too much—or not enough—humor in your stories?
Answer in the comments, and join us on Twitter for #RWchat on Sunday, April 30th, at 7pmEST/4pmPST.
*Okay, fine, I’ll tell. It’s a line from Pokémon Snap on N64. See? Silly.
Golden Heart® finalist Alexis Daria’s debut contemporary romance will be released in 2017 from SMP Swerve. On Sunday evenings, Alexis co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. She also serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and Municipal Liaison for the NYC region of National Novel Writing Month. She loves social media, and you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and follow her blog.