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Five Tips For Writing Humor 

Too many writers who want very much to write humor, get bogged down in some of the most obvious mistakes a humorist can make. Here are five ways to tighten and lighten your work. 

1. Keep the analogies to a dull roar.

Humor diva Erma Bombeck had that one down to a fine science. She never drowned her readers in ‘like or as’.  She let one slide in and take its toll on your mental images and merrily went on her way with the story. In many cases, analogies can kill the reader’s attention … faster than a one-legged chicken on a downhill slope. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)   

2. Don’t force your words.

Let the language have its head and take you along with it. Don’t force it into attempts at humor that will lose your readers and make your work sound hyped. Humor has to have a force of its own. It is a living breathing funny-bone we’re talking about here. If you believe you have a sense of humor, let it express itself on its own terms. 

3. If you do not have a sense of humor, one will be appointed for you.

I haven’t met too many humorists without a sense of humor. Humor is a necessary part of our life. A feeding tube for some hidden and hungry deranged freak with a pen. The unpleasant side-effects of not getting it down on paper are too …well… unpleasant to describe here. Trust me though, I know whereof I speak.  It takes weeks of recovery with copious amounts of scrabble, the New York Times crossword puzzle in INK, and plenty of coffee. 

4. Death may not become you.

Unless it comes very naturally, writing on the mishaps at Aunt Dottie’s funeral may not be something you’re able to pull off. When in doubt, write it, have a family member read it and if they haul off and belt you for disrespecting the dead, it may not be in you to write ‘morbidity mirth’.

5. And the truth shall set you free…sometimes

The coolest aspect to being a humorist or satirist is that both are given a far wider berth in the vast dry lands of litigation.  Humor and satire can take liberties far beyond the usual boundaries and generally get away with it. There have been cases of satirists confined to the stocks in front of Radio City Music Hall, but in general, we can take the boundaries a bit further than writers of other genre. 

All in all, being a humor writer is a wonderful job. We keep the world laughing and reduce stress. Now if we could only claim low cholesterol, we’d be the perfect food.

 

copyright 2002

 

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