Writing Problems – Accidentally Hilarious

I’m not a funny person. At least, I don’t think of myself that way. And yet, somehow, I manage to make people laugh. It doesn’t happen often, but, every now and then, when I’m just talking normally–just expressing a natural thought–the person I’m talking to will burst out laughing. “You’re so funny!” they’ll say, leaving me utterly perplexed.

I thought my random bouts of hilarity were limited to conversations when I wasn’t paying attention to the words falling out of my mouth. But then I got to Lesley, showed people my writing, and found that I was getting chuckles where I hadn’t really intended. A lot of this centered around one of my characters — a baby dragon, kept as pet and best friend, who could not breathe fire. “And you don’t think that is inherently funny?” a professor asked me. No, I hadn’t. But I was starting to.

This same professor, when I had him for my own mentor, assigned me Terry Pratchett books in part so I could examine the humor. Now that I was paying attention, I began to see how humor could be a lot more than just punch lines and one liners — it can be in the cadence and flow, in the way the author chooses to carry his story.

I still have a hard time being funny on purpose. If I was to sit and think of what would really make a reader laugh, it would come out flat, dry — just awful. If I’m going to be funny, it has to just happen, just stumble out of my mouth or onto the page. And now that I’m beginning to recognize humor when I see it, I’m starting know when to keep it, cultivate it, make it part of my story. I just can’t do it on purpose.

Can any of you write funny? Or is there some part of your writing that other people had to notice for you?

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