Do you mind if I throw in some humor into my stories now and then? Some days I just can’t help myself. I also think even the most serious of tales can use some levity once in a while. For one thing, a large percentage of the population can be amusing, at least some of the time, whether they intend to be or not. For another, there are times when a serious situation needs a break. I have also been guilty of starting a serious novel, and having it degenerate into a giggle or three.
Take my fantasy detective series, the Housetrap Chronicles. Just because I take a familiar title, muck it about and then use the result as my plot inspiration, doesn’t mean the tales were not intended to be serious. Of course, I couldn’t resist throwing in the occasional bad pun or ridiculous situation, or have the characters’ innermost thoughts conflict with their words. It gets pretty bad when the publisher complains, “It’s not funny enough.” And here I thought I was writing serious prose.
This never fails to happen to me. My second published novel, “The Queen’s Pawn,” started out as a straightforward fantasy thriller about a young man trapped in a burning city. Before long, nonsense started to creep in. By the time I’d finished what turned out to be the first book in a trilogy, I’d abused him mercilessly and stuffed him into all sorts of embarrassing situations. Of course, this meant I had to carry on in this manner for the next two books. What else do you do with a handsome hero who is clueless about the ladies who keep flinging themselves at him and who doesn’t recognize that when the princess is talking about her wedding plans, he is supposed to be the groom.
In general, even in a more serious tale, there has to be a wise-cracking character or two in my stories to lighten the load. Alex in Wanderland started out as a novel about a feuding married couple a long way out of their depth in an alternative Dark Age style world. They ended up on a quest with a group of characters out of B movies central casting, not to mention the local deity, the Goddess Gladys.
Besides bad puns, which are sometimes more difficult than writing straight dialogue, I enjoy doing what I think of as the parallel conversation. This is where using point-of-view comes in handy. You can have a character saying one thing in conversation, while mentally thinking or commenting something completely different internally. This lets the reader in on the joke.
Even in tales where I have managed to stay on track and stick with serious subjects, I find myself throwing in characters whose sole purpose is to say witty things and comment on the goings on. An example of this shows up in my Toltec series where a Mayan servant and a Saxon cook keep up a lighter dialogue and commentary about what is happening around them.
There is a place for everything, although sometimes everything gets out of place, at least inside my head, while I’m trying to write. But if you don’t giggle once in a while at your own cleverness, who will?
The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
We’re Not in KansasToltec Dawn (Book 1, 2, of 3)