Charlotte from Arbroath wants to write humour: Hi Lorraine, I read your column in Writing Magazine each month and you make it seem really easy to write humour, but whenever I try I can’t seem to get to the point quick enough. I read back what I’ve written and it bores even me, so I can’t see it making anyone else laugh, even though the event I’m writing about was funny. Can you give me some advice?
In my column I write about everyday things that other writers can relate to – basically how to survive as a writer while trying to earn a living. I want my readers to laugh, but I also want them to identify with me. I get many emails from readers who say they, too, have experienced some of the things I’ve written about. This tells me I’m hitting the right spot.
When you come to write about your experiences you need to have a definite point in mind, as well as a target audience, which will help you to keep to focus. But don’t worry if you initially ramble on for page after page. It’s important to get all the facts down. You can (and should) rewrite them in a different order to get the best possible effect. You might find that moving the final paragraph (or part of it) to the first paragraph gives a great opening hook.
Writing humour is no different to any other genre when it comes to one basic fact: perfection is in the editing. It doesn’t matter if your first draft is long enough to paper a room, because that isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the draft that you are going to show to anyone else.
So, my advice to you is this: if the event you’ve written about was funny but your account of it isn’t, you need to edit, edit, edit until you’ve got rid of the all the bits that detract from the humour. Then put it away for a week or so and read it again. If it still isn’t funny, edit some more.
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