“My Life As a Lumberjack Or How I Fell for the Wrong Guy(s)” is a comedy on steroids. But as I was writing it, I realized that writing great comedy is a tough job. I’ve read tons of books which describe themselves as comedies but while they may start out funny, or even end up funny but to maintain pages and pages of smirks, grins and giggles is plain old fashioned hard.
The action must be fast. Your language clever and plot twists must come out of nowhere. And, I certainly hope I’ve accomplished those things. Here are a few things I tried to keep in mind to keep the energy soaring.
One thing that made writing Benz (nickname for Mercedes Bennion) fun was that she says just about anything that comes to her mind. Sometimes that gets her into trouble, and sometimes she might even come across as a little snarky. But who isn’t snarky now and then? The humor came because she was unpredictable.
I played and played with words and tone. Things like: Sometimes I love playing dumb.
“Oh thank you, Norm! Could you show me, just one more time how to do this?
You’re so good at it.” Yeah, I could do the helpless card when convenient.
I enjoyed the starlit hike — yes, hike — Norm took a couple of us on.
Me, Norm, the dark=awesooome.
There’s a solid mixture of physical slapstick comedy like getting stuck in a watering trough, a bad day in a porta potty (try not to cringe), a riot at Boy’s Blazer Camp and a rather complicated
interaction with a flagpole (and in case you’re wondering…that actually happened as unbelievable as it may seem.)
And I used a lot favorite of Benz’s tool—sarcasm. Like her comments about the pair of mean girls in the program:
Watching them made me feel like I wanted to throw up.
“Go, Conor, go!” Like a pair of inept cheerleaders, they’d wriggled and cheered when he was serving. And serving. And serving.
“You’re sooooo good, Conor!”
I’m going to be soooo sick!
Even some of the names carry humor: Norm (who one might expect to be geeky—no offense to the Norms of the world) is actually as handsome as a Norse god. Mercedes – Benz (who btw you can tell the “dumb” people in the book because they all make a comment about her name and how it’s similar to the car) Dan (gorgeous-er than the day is long) gets his own name: Dan-Dan the Mountain man.
So when writing humor, remember it may not be as easy as you think. I found it worked well to have friends read the rough pages just to get the humorous beats right. And that was scary to let them see the non-polished story.
It’s important to keep the energy going, look for places to throw in unexpected twists, push the
exaggeration (but watch out readers may say “but that can’t really happen!” Just smile and know
you’ve pushed that envelope as far as you could.)
Also, if you’re great with words, use puns, irony and the fav teenism—sarcasm.
I’m tickled pink with the way “My Life as a Lumberjack” turned out and there are even parts that
after reading them a billion and a half times I still laugh. And I think that’s about as good as any
author can hope for!
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