This week we review a blog post from Kristen Lamb, a book titled How to Write Funny, edited by John B. Kachuba, and a blog post from Paul Johnson at The Good Greatsby.
Kristen Lamb is the best-selling author of We Are Not Alone and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Read these books if you want to write. In the 21st Century, like it or not, a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook fan page are the holy trinity of an author’s platform, and Kristen wrote the bible.
On her blog, Kristen gives additional lessons on social media and the craft of writing. Every one of her posts answers a question I had in my head before I visited her site.
For example, Kristen’s recent post, “Scene Antagonists–The Making of a Hero”, discusses the scene antagonist that drives the inner change of a character. After I looked up what antagonist meant (it means the bad guy), I wanted to know how an antagonist would work in certain humorous books, where the main character’s obstacles are of his own doing.
I asked this in a comment to the post. Kristen’s articulate answer was (1) be careful of literary fiction, which must be read in the context of the time it was published, and (2) even those protagonists’ inner turmoil must be externalized to tell a good story. For years I had wondered why my every attempt to create a buffoon fell flat on the page. Now I know what was missing. There must be an anti-buffoon.
I’ve learned other great lessons in writing humor from the aptly titled How to Write Funny, an anthology of essays and interviews from accomplished humor writers. It’s an old cliché that humor cannot be taught. But this book does not really teach humor. Instead, it demonstrates how to find and release the humor from the dysfunction that lies within and around us. Chapter 14, on the 7 Commandments of Comedy Writing, is alone worth the price of the book. That is, unless you are completely humorless, which explains why you are reading my blog.
And last, but certainly not least, is one man who does not need to learn anything about writing humor. His name is Paul Johnson, and his blog, The Good Greatsby, has become a daily treasure. Writing comedy is hard. Writing publishable comedy every day seems next to impossible. I keep looking in the website’s source code for elves that do the writing at night, but all I saw were semicolons, backslashes, and a half-eaten oatmeal cream pie.
One of Paul’s recent gems, “Food Pyramid We Hardly Knew Ye”, discusses the United States Department of Agriculture’s decision to change the food pyramid to a food plate. The very idea oozes with comedic value, and Paul capitalizes on it nicely. If you want to start each day with a laugh, bookmark TheGoodGreatsby.com.
And that’s a wrap. Enjoy the weekend.