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Injecting Humor Plot

For the past two weeks, we have explored Comedy subgenres and conflict layers.

This week we take a look at ways to inject humor into the plot.

1.       Have characters make silly mistakes or intentional mistakes being passed off as funny, shaking off embarrassment.

2.       You can twist and exaggerate stereotypical characters for effect.

3.       Mistaken identity, disguises, and costumes can add laughs.

4.       Physical comedy, such as practical jokes and prat falls, is harder to portray with a verbal camera than an actual one. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it.

5.       Missteps in manners and etiquette work when the audience is in on the deliberate use of them.

6.       Deliberately behaving the opposite of what is expected can be funny.

7.       Fast paced farcical action can be funny.

8.       The situation, overall story problem, or story world can be so exaggerated or off that they become the source of the humor.

9.       Using the character’s behavior and bad habits against him can inject humor.

10.     Sexual content and innuendo can be injected where appropriate.

Do your research. There are many books and classes on humor and comedy.

Watch your favorite comedians and comedies. Take notes about what made you laugh.

When you read a book and find yourself belly laughing, mark that section and go back to it. Examine it closely. What caught you off guard? Study the setup and delivery, the construction of the gag, the descriptions of characters, and the details of the humorous world closely. Identify the triggers.

Consider your targeted audience. How far can you push the boundaries without triggering disgust or anger? Humor that might be appropriate for a novel targeted to adults would not be appropriate for middle school. Middle school humor might bore a young adult audience.

Using profanity can be funny, but too much is not a good thing. One carefully placed expletive can be far more effective that the same word used in every other sentence. The mind skips over abusive repetition.

Next week, we look at ways to inject humor into your dialogue.

Pick up a copy of the latest entry in the Story Building Blocks series: Comedy, Build A Plot Workbook available through Amazon and at local bookstores on request. Also available for Kindle.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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