What’s it like to write funny stuff? As someone trying to learn to write, I’m confused about how you do it. The way you guys are funny seems to me like a ‘foibles and contradictions of human interaction, well narrated’ type of strategy, but how do you come up with that stuff? Is it part of your natural worldview? Do you brainstorm it? Is it because you know your characters so well that it kind of pops in to your heads? Do you think that’s something a writer can develop, or is it kind of an intrinsic part of your style (or not)?Claire
“Will you please stop doing that?”
Cookie giggled and waved the fart gun around.
Andrews, Ilona. One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles Book 3) (p. 162). NYLA. Kindle Edition.
I think you might be overthinking it. 😉
Worry less, wing it more. When you see funny stuff, put it in your books. That’s it.
I’ve become a beta reader recently for a couple of different authors – does everyone have their own requests on what they’re looking for from beta readers? Or is there some general “job description” that I should know?Bookworm
It depends on the writer. If no specific instructions are provided, the writer is looking for reader reactions.
Some things are technical like these:
She had come taken care of her affairs this morning[RS1] . If her plan to convince him to cooperate failed, she would go at it alone. “Everything I need is in my vehicle. I’ll give your people the code. They can bring it up.”
[RS1]Had to read this sentence a few times. Is it like “she had come dressed for battle”, a past participle adverb? It doesn’t sound right with “taken”.
What happened here? We started one sentence, probably got interrupted, and shifted to a different thought. So it should be either She had come prepared or She had taken care of her affairs this morning.
This happens a lot, as does homonym replacement and muscle memory mistakes, like typing break instead of brake or eyes instead of eye. These are issues that are related to the sheer volume of words typed over many years. These corrections are always appreciated, but please don’t feel too much pressure to catch every one of them, because a copy editor will flag them as well.
His intelligence, his humor[RS1] , his determination, none of it remained. His face was blank, his eyes cold and empty, as if she were looking at death itself. Not many things scared her, but in that moment, she felt the icy grip of true instinctual fear.
[RS1]His humor is the second trait she thinks of? He’s not really given her that much cause to yet, she remarks on his lack of it a couple of times before this. Even says the word amusement is likely not in his vocabulary (page 29). It’s much more believable on page 94, “when he thawed enough to show rare splashes of humor” because he’s more relaxed and funnier from here onward.
This is a reader reaction. The reader is not buying what we are selling here, and she is explaining why. This is gold and this is what most writers want. We want to know how our narrative makes you feel. It helps us finetune things. We are in the business of manipulating your emotions and we need the real time feedback.
I’ve been writing for 10 years and sacrificed exercise and sleep to make it happen. It’s not a sustainable system. So how did you raise kids and live life AND write books before you found a publisher and began to write full time?Rita
This is probably going to make you scream at the screen, but it didn’t feel like a sacrifice. I had a job that didn’t really challenge me intellectually. I worked as a legal secretary, which was a good job and I was lucky that the firm took a chance on a college dropout. A lot of my job involved formatting documents, transcribing letters, taking things to courthouse to get them stamped, and so on. It gave me an opportunity to think about writing the next scene while I drove back and forth or sorted the files.
So I would get up in the morning, prep the kids for school, send them on their way – the school was only a couple of blocks away from our subdivision, kiss Gordon, and then we’d get into our two separate cars and drive to Savannah. I would work, sometimes meet Gordon for lunch in the square in front of the law firm, since our firms were only a few blocks from each other, finish my work for the day and get home. Then I would make dinner, feed the kids, and park myself on the couch with a laptop for a couple of hours. I’d write and talk through things with Gordon, and still be available if the kids needed homework help, etc. Our house was small, only 1100 sq. feet, and we were never far away from each other.
Because Gordon and I thought about the scenes all day, we were able to get the word count down in those two hours. That’s how we wrote Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, and a good chunk of On The Edge.
You have to take into the account that I was very motivated. On paper, Gordon made 35K per year and I made 30, pre-taxes. We had two kids in elementary school. We had to have professional wardrobe, two cars, make the mortgage payments, the insurance, and so on. Money was very tight, and neither of us was likely to be promoted with a substantial salary increase. That first 5K that Ace paid us for Magic Bites bought cute school clothes, school supplies, and paid for school sports, which were expensive.
The older the kids grew, the more money we consumed as a family. Writing was the only path to financial security I could see. Day jobs weren’t going to keep up with the cost of living increases. I was laser focused on “make money so the kids can be okay” and writing not only brought in supplemental income, but was so much fun. Much more so than my day job. I didn’t give up exercise – exercise was a luxury at that point I couldn’t really afford. I didn’t give up sleep either. I did give up TV and most of computer games at that time. Basically, I gave up leisure. There simply wasn’t enough time for it.
As to how sustainable it was, I don’t know. We were able to go full time after On The Edge was finished. Although we weren’t quite making as much as our day jobs provided at that time, we both saw an upward trajectory in earnings and we agreed that if we gave it all we had, writing would provide for us. We ended up being right.