Tension and Humor in Fiction Writing.
I want to thank Jean for hosting me on this murder mystery blog spot. I write fantasy, but I love a good mystery just as much. There are two things a good murder mystery has and these two things are also found in fantasy and all genres. Tension and humor.
Picture if you will, your heroine rounding a corner in her home, on the street, down the stairs to the laundry room of her building, or just about anywhere and there is a dead body. Add tension. Does she know this person? Did she just notice how upset they were? Did she just exchange angry words with the victim? Or is this a completely random act that occurred in a place the heroine normally felt was safe.
More tension; does she notice bloody footprints leaving the scene? Maybe there’s broken glass, or a pipe wrench, candlestick, bowling ball. Okay, I had to throw that in there because I started thinking about the game Clue. You get the idea. The more tension, the shorter the sentence, the more you, the reader, or the author, are on the edge of your seat.
Now imagine if every sentence, every paragraph, and every chapter was full of this kind of tension. Yes, it’s too much. We love the tense moments, the scary edge of things unseen and hinted at, but if we don’t give you, the reader, or the author, a moment to pause, it’s over done.
Enter humor. What is humor? Every story should have some. Humor may be a character who acts out in a predictably funny manner. Think about the robots in Star Wars. Or the fool in medieval times, helping the king laugh. Humor might be a sentence or two in the middle of a difficult scene to help relieve the stress. Humor might be an animal. Remember Bambi slipping on ice?
In my high or epic fantasy, “The Treasures of Carmelidrium,” my heroine, Missie, is a modern American young woman, who finds herself in a French speaking medieval world. It’s a fantasy, so I get to play with this world and make it differ from our medieval history. In one scene, she is shouting out her frustration and says to the prince, “I am less then three months from graduation, but I won’t graduate. I have worked all my life, all my life, Healden, for the opportunities given to me by a music degree. But instead, I’m trapped in the twelfth century.”
“Whatever!” Once again she resumed pacing. “Have you any idea what my family is going through? I have disappeared off the face of the planet with no trace!”
In this scene, I use humor to break a stressful moment for my heroine and while she doesn’t react to the humor, I hope the reader will. I use this type of humor often in the story. I wrote my fantasy so readers, regardless of their favorite genre, would enjoy my book, “The Treasures of Carmelidrium.” I hope I’ve sparked enough curiosity for you all to give it a try.
I’ll stop by to read your comments and answer your questions all day. Thank you for spending this time with me.
N. R. Williams (Nancy)