Fifth Saturday Blogger
When you are at a party, do your friends ask you to tell your favorite jokes; are you still trying to live down your high school reputation as class clown; were you a standup comic in your past life?
You might not write humor, but chances are your stories contain humorous lines, dialogue, or occurrences. So, how do you know when you’re funny?
I could be modest and say when I started out writing my first Sydney Lockhart mystery, I’d planned for it to be lighthearted and humorous, but that would be a lie. I desperately wanted my story to be downright funny—outright side-achingly hilarious. But my answer to the above three questions would be a resounding “no.” I never remember jokes, even those that had me laughing until my mascara ran. While in high school, I tried my best to be invisible, and if I attempted to stand up in front of an audience and tell jokes, I’d get the hook immediately.
I know I’m funny when I’m with my three sisters; we all are. We feed off one another and laugh at stupid things we say and do: wearing mismatched earrings, walking into doors, going out for the evening with our dress on inside out. My sisters aren’t with me when I’m writing, though. So when I began working on Murder at the Arlington, I had to muster enough confidence to plow ahead and hope for the best. I sent the manuscript to my sisters. They loved it; funniest thing they ever read, but then, they are my sisters, of course they’d say that. Then my first agent said she loved the humor in the story. But I still wasn’t convinced I’d pull it off until readers I didn’t know began telling me they had to put the book down several times because they laughed too hard to continue, or they read some of the funnier lines to a friend.
Just as I was about to pat myself on my back, I had a rude awaking. I realized I could not take credit for the accomplishment. All I did was pay attention when Sydney Lockhart (my protagonist) walked into my life during during a stay at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Spring, Arkansas. The humor belongs to her and the zany characters she brought along. I merely eavesdropped and wrote it all down.
I’d love to hear from you, all you clever, witty, funny guys. How do you know when you are funny?