Laughter

Colton Witt. Laughter. Grade 11, Age 16. 2012 Gold Medal, Photography.

Luke Asked:

I struggle with humour. I write fantasies. How do you inject humor so easily into your writing? And is comic relief that important? Thank you.

Ned Answered:

Luke, Let’s take the second part of your question first: yes, comic relief is important. Even in the most serious or scary story, a light moment makes things more real. So you are right to try and inject humor (or humour, however we want to call it) into your fantasy stories.

The problem with humor is it’s like love, or success – it doesn’t just happen because you try really hard. If you are racking your brain trying to write something funny, it probably won’t be that funny. You have to open your eyes to what’s around you. Observe other people. See when they do ridiculous things. Make your characters do those things. Bonus points when you make a character do something stupid that you yourself have done.

Remembering funny situations is probably the best reason to carry around a notebook or take notes on your phone. Whenever I have kept journals, they have never really been that good, but many a time I have heard something funny and not written it down and then it’s lost forever.

Take comfort! Everybody struggles with humor. If it were easy, it wouldn’t make us laugh.

Thanks,

Ned

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Have questions about writing or the business of publishing? Ask a real writer! Ned Vizzini is the award-winning author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, Teen Angst? Naaah…, and The Other Normals. In television, he has written for MTV and ABC. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and Salon. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the forthcoming fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets (April 23, 2013). His work has been translated into eight languages. E-mail your questions to askned@artandwriting.org.

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