Posted in Writing tips

Funny writing adds a punch

Have you every wondered why a columnist like Frances Whiting is so successful? She’s funny that’s why.

Or why do you enjoy the wit of author Janet Evanovich? Again – definitely funny. Surely anyone who calls their character Stephanie Plum and gives her the role of bounty hunter has to have a sense of humour.

Here’s an example from one column Frances wrote: ‘…you obviously have no idea how much bras cost these days, because if you did you would know that no woman in her right mind would burn them – please, she might as well just set her handbag alight.’

These writers can tap into everyday life, find it funny and then write accordingly. That’s why it’s so important to be an observer.

I had a friend once who used to always mix her words up. We were skipping puddles as kids and one was particularly muddy and she warned me, “Watch out for the puddy muddle.” I’ll never forget how long we laughed at that one.

There’s also the simple things people say that are funny just because they haven’t thought about what they are saying. A man stood at a platform and asked, “What time does the 8am train come in?” Derrr!

People are always doing things that look funny. They fall over, they lose their clothing, they snort when they laugh, they pull funny faces and plenty of other hilarious things.

We all get a good laugh out of Funniest Home Videos and it’s usually at the expense of some hurting themselves. Just why it is so funny when people flip over the handle-bar of a bike or slip over on a wedding dance floor after performing The Jive?

When I write humour in my novels I try to make it as human as possible so every reader can relate to that feeling of embarrassment or frivolity and laugh with the character.

Take for instance I have a character with dementia who wears a lampshade on his head for half a day thinking that it’s a hat. He goes back to do what he’s already done (such as painting a wall) only to find out he’s forgotten he’d completed it already.

I have women characters with everyday comments like, “…she’s dieted so many times now she has shares in Jenny Craig,” or “He dresses so badly even Vinnies wouldn’t take his hand-me-downs,” and “Don’t be rrridiculous. I don’t have a drrrrinking proooblemm. I have a sppeaking prroblem, a wobbling prroblem, a sluuring prroblem and a…what was I saying? – ah yeah, a mmmemory prroblem.”

Every time you see or hear something funny write it down. Keep a notebook handy. When you are trying to give a bit of punch and laughter to your writing you’ll then have notes on hand and won’t have to rely on memory.

Read other writers who you admire for their humour and I hope you have the last laugh.


Donna Munro is the author of The Zanzibar Moon, Kendwa's Secret and Elephant Creek, freelance writer, blogger, graphic designer, content writer, book marketer, administrator, web editor and book reader. She's been published in Take Five, The Australian Woman's Weekly, For Me, She, That's Life, Woman's Day and Club Life and other smaller publications. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of Australia and the current Administrative Assistant. Donna lives in Queensland and is addicted to beaches, reading, Peanut Butter, elephants, koalas, Sydney Roosters and Home & Away. You'll often find her digging her toes in the sand with a book in her hand.

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