I never set out to write comedies. I don’t write jokes. Yes, I wanted Mallory Petersen to have some goofy cases so as to temper the serious cases which are the main thrust in her stories. I don’t write jokes. In fact, I steal humor. In Beta, I stole a joke I heard years ago from Redd Foxx. I don’t know if the one he told was original to him, but I remembered it after years and used it in the story.
For the other humorous scenes, those are the difficulties I have when trying to temper the serious parts. Sometimes, it’s tough creating humorous situations for Mallory. I don’t want to go too far over the top, but I do want some laughter. For the Val-Air ballroom scene in Alpha, that wasn’t supposed to be a humorous scene. Mallory was supposed to have a chase scene in an empty building, maybe down in the basement with construction projects going on. I’ve told the story how the scene came about and it’s humorous without being over the top and without being disrespectful.
Most of Mallory’s humor comes from the cases she takes on where she follows prospective cheaters and there I have the fun of coming up with different scenarios. One bit of humor I used in Beta came from not a real life experience, but a story I heard about one of my classmates. If you’ve read Beta, it’s the scene where she discovers the supposed marijuana someone is smoking isn’t really weed.
In Delta (coming soon to an Amazon link near you), I have Mallory encounters a bunch of kidnapped pooches. I wanted so much to have at least one of the dogs try to, uh, hump her leg or arm. However, when it came time to write that scene, I remembered an Evanovich book I’d recently listened to where Miss Plum has a similar scene. I didn’t want to steal directly from her so I changed my scene. It’s still humorous, though not how I REALLY wanted it. Later in the book, I have Mallory encounter some women who used company funds for uh, extra-curricular activities while on a business trip. I thought the entire case she accepts was pretty good. I kept the humor to a minimum, but I hope you’ll enjoy the good moments. In another scene, Mallory attends a speed dating event and has fun with the prospective dates. There aren’t a lot of ha-ha moments, but I’m hoping the scene will bring a smile to the reader. With Delta, the main story deals with some serious material that affects Mallory in a personal way, so I tried to deal with that. I did feel, though, there had to be some humor to offset some of the murder bits.
In the two subsequent stories, Gamma and Zeta, I’m am having to deal with too much humor and over the top humor taking away from the thrust of the story. The humor needs to be lessened so that when it does show up, it’s truly funny. This is the challenge. How not to get too comedic to where the reader will expect it and won’t take the main case with the intended drama. Especially in Zeta, where Mallory’s personal problems come to a head.
At the time of this writing, I’m working on a couple projects, one of which has zero humor and the other-a Reznik story-I want some humor, but not Mallory-type humor. There’s some Reznik humor I’ve developed that I think works well with his character’s cynical nature. And I have time to play with it, tweak it so it’ll work.
Humor can be tricky to write. Several ways to write it, but it depends on what the author wants out of the story and how the author wants the reader to view the story.
What are some good examples of humor in stories you’ve run across?