5 Stars - How many times can I reread this without seeming eccentric? 4 Stars - It was great, but I wouldn't say it was one of my top 20. 3 Stars - This kept me entertained. 2 Stars- Not a big fan. 1 Star - I'd like my time back, please.
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Today I am happy to be hosting a guest post from Leila Sales, author of Mostly Good Girls. My review will be following shortly, but if you'd like to know more about Leila or Mostly Good Girls, you can visit her website.
On my blog tour, I’m going over a few of my best tools for humor writing. In my last entry, I spoke about agreement, the importance of saying “yes, and” to the world you’ve created. Now here’s my second tip:
2. USE THE GIFTS YOU HAVE GIVEN YOURSELF.
This is a good story-building rule even if you’re not writing humor. Pay attention to the elements that you’ve introduced into your story, and try to find ways to use them later on. If you bother to establish that your character never wears jeans and owns a collection of one hundred tights, that’s a gift that you’ve given to yourself. You can and should put it to use later on.
In the new novel I’m writing now, I realized that, on page five , I mentioned that the protagonist has a trampoline in her backyard. As soon as I noticed this, I knew that a scene would have to take place on this trampoline—otherwise, why would I include it in the first place?
In Mostly Good Girls, you can see an example of how I used this rule with the yearbook scenes. Once I had written the chapter “Like a safari, except with wild animals,” I knew that I needed a scene where something happened with the class’s safari-themed yearbook. Thus, many chapters later, I included “What a safari really means.”
“What’s wrong with it, though?” demanded Hilary, standing beside Ms. Freck at the front of the room. Hilary had been diligently doing research ever since we chose safari as our theme. She’d even been to Harvard’s library to find lesser-known academic safari books. The look on Hilary’s face when Ms. Freck made this announcement was that of someone learning that her sole living relative has died in some tragic, unforeseeable factory accident.
“What’s wrong is that a safari is not just about looking at animals in the jungle,” explained Ms. Freck.
There was some confusion throughout the room. “I thought that’s exactly what a safari’s about,” I whispered to Katie.
This is why it’s usually worth it to include specific details as you’re writing a first draft. Some of these details will get cut in the revision process. But some of them are gifts from your imagination. So you should do what you’d do with any gift: use it to its full extent, or re-gift it to a friend and pretend like you bought it special for them. Or, if it’s chocolate, eat it immediately.
That’s humor-writing tip number two. Come to the next stop along my blog tour for tip number three. I’ll give you a hint: It has to do with the number “three.”