Humor or no, what's your poison?



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  1. #1
    Oliver RL Beers's Avatar
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    Default Humor or no, what's your poison?

    This is taken verbatum from my blog, with one tiny change, but it does say what I wish:

    The series I am currently working on is similar to the Dresden Files and also Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. All right, it is an overt usage of a previously used plot device…flattery and all that, but honestly, the opening was sitting right there!
    A good tool for a writer is the ability to use a cliché and then punch it in the nose. Examples of that can be found in my fantasy series, The Milward Chronicles and also in the Tony Mandolin Mysteries. Vampires, for an example, usually drink blood; not in my books, dragons are typically reptiles, but not in the fantasy series I wrote, and so on, and so on, and so on. Changing a tradition makes its new life entirely yours, as long as you do it well. Change also makes the old joke fresh and the shiver of horror brand new. If it didn't Steven King wouldn't have a market.

    So, as for this thread, I heartily encourage comments, the more the merrier. As often as I can I will be posting book samples and ideas as they come to me. Every decent writer knows…you have to listen to the voices.

    That being said, I prefer a touch of humor in the books I read for pleasure. Terry Pratchett, Alan Foster, Glen Cook and DeChancie all know how to tickle the funnybone...and, I believe I do as well. The question is, does it work for you? Jim Butcher's sense of humor is very, very dry. Pratchett's is about as damp as it can be, both have shot to the top as authors because they are able to paint an engaging mind movie with words.

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  3. #2
    Oliver
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    I love to be surprised by humor or wit, although I prefer when it enhances the story instead of being the focus. I don't usually think too much about humor when I'm writing. I think you're right about "painting an engaging mind movie with words," those tend to be the most fun novels that I read.
    Is it the end of the world or just the beginning of a new era? When strange objects are seen in the sky and people begin to fall prey to a mysterious illness all around the world, a young speech writer in Washington D.C. does the only thing he can, he goes to the White House.

    [url=http://www.tobyneighbors.com/] TobyNeighbors.com

  4. #3
    Oliver
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    Not sure of what you’re getting at but I’m a huge fan of both the Discworld and Dresden series and are always on the lookout for humorous fantasy.

    The Dresden files direct dialog with the reader and the constant downplay of his own awesomeness always sucks me in, compelling me to finish the book before doing anything else. But the humor only makes up for about 40% of the “must read”-feeling. In the end it is his fast-paced and action-packed storyline that gets me hooked and the fact that, in the end, it somehow always makes sense to me.

    I realized this after trying a few of Christopher Moores books whom also uses slang and humors remarks in abundance, Abbys journal chapters in “You suck” are a particular treat. Sadly his books always come to cramped ending with a storyline that often feels stunted to me. The humor only got him so far, I don’t think I’ll ever pick up another Moore-book again.

    The Discworld has evolved much since the first books. The first once leaned much heavier on the humor and could be compared to the young-adult authors such as Piers Anthony and Robert Asprin. When I started reading them at 14-15 I found them to be without a doubt one of the best fantasy books out there. Today I would say his later works are his master pieces however where the humor is much more a background noise. (And that anyone above the age of 15 should probably stay away from Piers and Roberts books.)

    I just finished Johannes Cabal the necromancer by Jonathan L Howard which is a must read for anyone out there who likes dry humor. Dry humor in conjunction with British politeness is probably the best poison you’ll ever find for me.

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  6. #4
    Oliver
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    Not sure of what you’re getting at but I’m a huge fan of both the Discworld and Dresden series and are always on the lookout for humorous fantasy.

    The Dresden files direct dialog with the reader and the constant downplay of his own awesomeness always sucks me in, compelling me to finish the book before doing anything else. But the humor only makes up for about 40% of the “must read”-feeling. In the end it is his fast-paced and action-packed storyline that gets me hooked and the fact that, in the end, it somehow always makes sense to me.

    I realized this after trying a few of Christopher Moores books whom also uses slang and humors remarks in abundance, Abbys journal chapters in “You suck” are a particular treat. Sadly his books always come to cramped ending with a storyline that often feels stunted to me. The humor only got him so far, I don’t think I’ll ever pick up another Moore-book again.

    The Discworld has evolved much since the first books. The first once leaned much heavier on the humor and could be compared to the young-adult authors such as Piers Anthony and Robert Asprin. When I started reading them at 14-15 I found them to be without a doubt one of the best fantasy books out there. Today I would say his later works are his master pieces however where the humor is much more a background noise. (And that anyone above the age of 15 should probably stay away from Piers and Roberts books.)

    I just finished Johannes Cabal the necromancer by Jonathan L Howard which is a must read for anyone out there who likes dry humor. Dry humor in conjunction with British politeness is probably the best poison you’ll ever find for me.

  7. #5
    Oliver
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    I'm not familiar with most of the writers you mentioned, the only one I've read being Foster. I have to agree with Ossian on principles though. Comedy is great as kind of a background when it occurs semi-naturally to the story. Foster was great at that as well as Heinlein and Orson Scott Card. What I find annoying is when the humor is forces and you wind up with something like the Xanth series or one of Aspirin's novels. That said, Jasper Fforde's books are wonderful and I've read the Hitchhikers' Guide To The galaxy series many times. Those aren't really fantasy or sci-fi though. They're comedy in sci-fi/fantasy settings. At the end of the day, a good novel should be about the human condition and part of that is handling the comical moments of life.

  8. #6
    Oliver
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    I pretty much agree with the above posters--the comedy should be natural, and not forced. I think when an author sees an opportunity for a comedic moment or witty response that grows organically out of the story and current circumstances that the characters are in, it works great. I think looking for places in the story that 'need' some comedy, or when the author feels like it's time to insert another laugh, things can feel contrived.

  9. #7
    Mr. Darcy
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmskiera View Post
    I pretty much agree with the above posters--the comedy should be natural, and not forced.
    Badly strained puns will back me out of a story in a hurry. That's probably why I read so little by Piers Anthony, these days.

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