Tips for Humor Writing

funny quote

I recently read this post from one of my favorite writing websites, Write to Done, about the secret to writing funny, and it got me thinking. You see, I think writing funny is hard. But the key to really funny writing is making it sound like it isn’t hard. That’s the hard part.

Funny writing can make you laugh out loud, but I think it can even be more subtle than that. There needs to be an engaging quality about the writing that makes you chuckle or at least smile to yourself as you read. A lot of people think they’re funny writers when, in fact, they are not. Other people can do it almost effortlessly, and sometimes they even come across as funny when they aren’t trying to be.

I enjoyed the post from Write to Done, and I definitely suggest checking it out when you get the chance. One thing I’d like to add to the list is that you should never point out to the reader that something is supposed to be funny.

There’s nothing less funny than when a writer makes a comment about something being funny. This can happen through a character or just through the prose, but either way it’s a sure turnoff. Truly funny writing will have readers chuckling and laughing on their own, not because you told them to. It’s like pointing out the punch line of your own joke. If you have to do that, it ceases to be funny.

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“I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
― Mark Twain

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So what if you’re trying to be funny and it’s just not working? 

Try these tricks: Create circumstances that are funny on their own (dramatic or hyperbolic scenes), use a thesaurus to find funny words (yank, for example, is funnier than pull), and finally, be strategic about where you place humor. Use it for comedic relief, use it to surprise, but don’t pound readers over the head with it.

Finally, if you really want to know if you’re a funny writer, give your writing to someone else to read silently in your presence. Try to watch them and see when or if they react. Talk to them about it later and see where improvements need to be made.

I have a lot more to say about humor writing, but I’ll leave it at that for now and suggest you head over to Write to Done and check out their post!

Do you find humor writing difficult?

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6 thoughts on “Tips for Humor Writing

  1. Hi Amanda – I very much enjoy reading your blog and find it a really useful source of advice on the technicalities of ‘correct’ grammar and usage. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. It’s a ‘pay it forward’ kind of award, showcasing blogs to other bloggers. You say a little about yourself and nominate around 5-7 other blogs you like for the award. You can see how it works on my entry here http://awritersnotepad.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/one-lovely-blog-award/ . If you want to join in, just copy the logo to your own post.

    • I think it’s hard for some people and easy for others. What I think is the most difficult is trying to tell someone they aren’t funny when they think they are. And then try to show them HOW to be funny.

  2. Pingback: Tips for Humor Writing (Part 2) | Amanda Bumgarner

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