Monday, October 6, 2014

Writing Humor

First of all, let me explain. I haven't the foggiest idea of how to write humor. And, of course, what's funny to one person may not be funny to another. Although many of my books are called humorous, I don't start them out that way. And if they do produce laughs or a grin, some kind of subconscious thinking on my part took over. Who'll Kill Agnes? is considered to be quite funny according to many of the reviews it has garnered. But when I started writing it, my intention was the opposite. I had intended to write a serious little mystery with the two policemen as intelligent and thoughtful but as I started writing, I realized I couldn't create characters smarter than I. Also, for reasons I don't understand, their characters just sort of took over and the words that came out of their mouths surprised even me.

The husbands in Death by Salsa were inspired by real friends. The scene in the book where they compare each other's salsa and say something like, "My salsa is hotter than yours." and the reply is, "No, mine is hotter," was part of a real conversation. When I started writing the book, I again planned a serious murder mystery with different adventures for the two husbands. But when they started an adventure without their wives and turned off the main highway going in a different direction, their fictional personalities apparently had a different perspective than my original one. Many readers have told me how much they enjoyed the antics of the husbands and could identify with the wives. I'm glad these fictional personalities were able to entertain.

In my novel The Pool Lizards, which is a satire of middle aged people trying to stay young, I created the characters from many years of living in apartments, particularly Las Vegas, Nevada, Colorado, Texas and Florida. The crazy antics of apartment dwellers provided no end of stories and entertainment. The story and characters are fictional but are typical of the experiences I observed. Also, I was an assistant manager of one apartment complex and had an inside view of a lot of craziness.

But don't get me wrong--I love all of these characters, even the ones who commit fictional murder. But not every reader finds them funny. Many fail to see the humor and I understand that but for those who do get a laugh once in a while, the writing is worth it whether I intended it or not.