Ask BHP: Humor in Fiction

Totally relate to the reader who submitted the question for this week: “I love books that make me laugh! I’d love to see a post where you (or authors?) tell us what goes into writing funny stories.”

Thankfully, we’ve got several author who fit that bill. I just grabbed a few of them who have recent releases and gave them some prompts so you can encounter the behind-the-scenes of writing comedic scenes or whole books. Here are some behind-the-scenes sneak peeks into the writing world from Karen Witemeyer, Nicole Deese, Jen Turano, and Mary Connealy. Enjoy!

Why do you think readers enjoy humorous scenes in a story?

Karen: Readers read to be entertained, and humor is hugely entertaining. Whether it’s witty dialogue, a madcap scene of misadventure, or a comedic one-liner, if it spawns a smile, it also spawns joy. And we all need more joy in our lives, don’t we?

Nicole: I think people enjoy taking a break from tension for a few minuteswhether it’s real-life tension or fictional tension from the story they’re reading, laughter provides a much-needed stress outlet for us all.

Jen: I think everyone loves to laugh, and humor in scenes provide readers with that amusing escape we especially need right now during these trying times.

Mary: The basic reason I write humor is because that’s what I love to read. I do not like books that make me cry. I can attest to the talent of the author when he/she makes me cry, dragging me through emotional agony. That writing has power. But I just don’t like it. Life has enough drama in it. I don’t want to add more by reading about it. I always say, “If they’re sassing each other and falling in love while they’re running for their lives, then I’m happy.” That’s what I read, and that’s what I write.

Have you ever used something funny that happened to you (or someone you know) as a basis for a scene in your book?

Karen: Every time I include a pun of some sort, I immediately think of my son, Wyatt. He and I love a good pun. Or even a bad one. While my other kids groan and roll their eyes, Wyatt always laughs. He’s my humor cheerleader.

Nicole: Absolutely–both! I mean, what’s the point of having relationships with people if you can’t write their most embarrassing moments into your books? Hahaha! Usually, I take a seedling of an idea from a true tale I’ve heard or experienced and then develop it further to suit the scene or the character I’m writing.

Jen: I pull a lot of fodder for my scenes from past experiences. Elmer the chicken being carried around like a football came from real-life, although I wasn’t the one carrying the chicken because chickens don’t seem to like me. Another example would be when peacocks attacked in one of my stories – that happened to me when I took my son to the zoo one day. He thought it was hilarious, whereas I thought I was going to be missing a limb after a particularly fierce peacock wouldn’t let go of my sleeve.

Mary: Absolutely. Much of the humor when men and women misunderstand each other is rooted in my own life. My husband is from a family of seven sons. We have four daughters. He spends plenty of time just absolutely confused at the way they behave. The way they chatter and laugh and (horrors) cry. All within the context of him adoring them. There’s a lot of comedy in the way women vs. men react, in my life and now…in my books.

Which recent character of yours made you laugh while writing?

Karen: Barnabas Ackerly is recent to me, though readers won’t meet him until this fall, but his novella in The Kissing Tree collection is one of the funniest stories I’ve written to date. At least to me. Ha! A self-proclaimed stodgy nag of practicality, he has a great tongue-in-cheek internal wit. He keeps dubbing the heroine’s Kissing Tree Inn with all sorts of silly names like the Inn of Smooching Shrubbery and the Inn of Osculating Topiaries. Made me laugh to write it.

Nicole: There were quite a few moments I laughed while writing Before I Called You Mine–one had to do with the meet-cute in chapter two and a certain character pretending to be a T-Rex, another was when I wrote about an alpaca farmer coming to a dysfunctional family’s Thanksgiving dinner as a blind date. I laughed at each of those scenes during the editing rounds, too.

Jen: Miss Daphne Beekman, a character in my new series, The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency. She’s an unlikely inquiry agent because she has a tendency to swoon whenever danger is near, so she’s had me laughing quite a bit over the past few months.

Mary: The hero, Cam, in The Reluctant Warrior, book #2 in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. He was a tough, order-snapping, former cavalry officer. And his daughter, when he was reunited with her after a long, long time, is terrified of him and clinging to the heroine Gwen, who has been caring for her. Cam needs help. Gwen administers the ‘help’ by slapping him in the back of the head every time he barks at people. She’s enjoying herself a bit too much.

Let’s talk…talking. Does witty dialogue come to you in the first draft, or is it something you add in as you edit?

Karen: I don’t typically write in layers, so yes, witty dialogue comes to me in the first draft. Nothing feels better than getting on a roll with fun verbal sparing between the hero and heroine. My favorite thing about writing with humor is that here is no kicking myself for thinking of the perfect comeback after the moment passes, which is what usually happens to me in real life. In fiction, I can go back days later and add the perfect zinger to my heroine’s repertoire as if it had been there all along. Yes!

Nicole: For me, humorous dialogue usually comes the easiest in a new scene I’m drafting… it’s all the other stuff (setting, movement, dialogue cues, the five senses, etc.) that takes the most work.

Jen: I don’t get witty until around edit #5. I have the bones of scenes in place, but it’s not until I really know the characters extremely well that their sense of humor comes out.

Mary: Sassy heroines, clueless heroes, that’s dialogue made for humor right there. Usually some of that comes on the first pass, but every time you go through, it grows. So the funnier it is, very likely, the more revisions it’s been through.

Thanks, amazing ladies! Readers, let us know the latest book you read that made you laugh out loud.

6 thoughts on “Ask BHP: Humor in Fiction

  1. Jen’s book Diamond In the Rough was the latest one that made me laugh! But all of these gals are amazing at their craft! This article was really fun and informative about their writing processes. Thanks!!

  2. I so agree with all of you ladies. And you make it all happen. Thank you.
    I just finished: One Plus One Equals Trouble by Sondra Kraak
    This was a wonderful story about two teachers who were hired for the same job, same school house, same time. And the differences between the two is what made it all so fun and humorous. I think this book was well written and fully engaged me in the story.

  3. I’m remembering every book mentioned here, that I haven’t already read. I feel like I’ve struck gold for books to read!
    PS I have a book FREE today, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in all ebook formats. AIMING FOR LOVE!

  4. I love all these authors!
    I am reading A Reckless Love by Beth White. Aurora is a hoot . Her nickname is Pete and she usually says what she thinks. Very funny.
    We have some terrific Christian authors out there who write awesome books!

  5. Yay! Four of my favorite authors all in one spot! I love all your fun/funny books. I know I can always grab one of your books for a great time. If I read a sad or intensely suspenseful book I usually need one of your books afterward to cheer and lighten me up! I’ve read each of your newest books (and reviewed them)! Thanks to all of you for sharing your time and talents! Hugs!

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