Monday, September 2, 2013

Writing Tips - Writing Humor Tips from Patrick McManus

Patrick McManus is one of the best humorists in the world. His humorous essays always leave me smiling and most times laughing. He's well known for his books, some of which are: They Shoot Canoes, Don't They, Never Sniff a Gift Fish, Real Ponies Don't Go Oink!, and Into the Twilight Endlessly Grousing.

For humor writing tips, I'm dipping into McManus' book, The Deer on a Bicycle - Excursions into Writing of Humor.

Rules of Writing Humor

1. Never write about real life humor.

2. Write about your bad experiences, not your good ones. Write about serious events, not funny ones. Write about your failure, not your success. Write about your fear, not your courage. Write about the negative, not the positive. Write about the bad, not the good.

3. Write out of your own experience. When I write about my mistakes and stupidities, my readers recognize them as authentic, because they have done the same dumb stuff.

4. Use the reader's imagination. The idea here is to provide a few clues about a scene or situation and then let the reader fill in all the rest of the details.

5. Beware the logic of humor. Even if the story is totally absurd, certain rules of logic apply. No matter how absurd, humor still requires its own particular kind of logic.

6. Be careful with exaggeration. As you are aware, exaggeration is one of the main tools of humor writing.

7. Do't use a "funny" voice with a tone that keeps saying, in effect, "what I'm telling you is really funny." It's hard to describe, but I'm sue you've heard such a voice. It has a giggle tangled up in it, almost as if the writer is going "hee-hee" every few words.

8. Use scenes and characters. For me, the funniest humor arises out of characters and situations. The greater our familiarity with the character and the situation, the greater the comedy.

9. Write within a comic idea.

10. Never write a list of anything that consists of ten items. Invariably you will run out of steam at item nine.

There you have it, some great tips on writing humor. I highly suggest you read his book, The Deer on a Bicycle for more information.

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