Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writing by mood and humor in stories


I like to write humor.  A lot of my stories are filled with comedy and my novels have funny banter intertwined through various parts.  Not everyone finds it funny or amusing, but that's okay as long as I'm grinning while I write. ;)

Here's the thing though.  It's not always there.  Right now is one of those times.  I want very much to write funny things, but I can't.  I could try, but it would be forced and whatever I'm trying to joke about would likely come across as lame or even downright offensive.

Even when the comedy is working, it's not consistent.  I can write five straight chapters where everything has a laugh or two then the next three have one or two moments only worth a smirk or groan.  Not only that, the types of humor change at times.  Sometimes it's completely absurd, others it's witty and at times it's thoughtful humor.

My short stories are a great example of this.  The Stories for Demented Children are absurd in every way possible.  A lot of people love them and others absolutely hate them.  "Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend" is a bit juvenile, but it's supposed to be.  It took me back to a time when I was a teenager in the 80's and I really drew from my experiences.  "Test Pilot" is an example of working with running jokes.  'Not my job' is said often as is 'Is it complicated?'

On the other hand, "Don't Ever Change" has no humor in it.  It's very dark and a bit gory.  I didn't even realize I was doing it at the time.  Everyone hates the ending of that one too.  I'll have to fix that one of these days. ;)


The reason this is on my mind at the moment is that I'm writing my fourth novel and through the first three chapters, I have absolutely no humor in it at all.  I've been contemplating it a great deal and there's a part of me that wants to go through and add it. 

The problem is that it's just not there.  I'm in a dark mood in real life at the moment and it feels good to write dark things.  The entire first three chapters are completely on edge and rightfully so.  The reader should be on edge when reading these chapters.  They should worry about what's going to happen.  There's nothing funny about their situation.  It's a desperate, scary life they're living, yet there's so much hope.  The reader will know that it just can't last.

Sometimes I get very serious and introverted, which is the mood I'm in now.  At times there's a reason for it and at other times, there's no reason for it at all.  Right now, I'm just evaluating everything about life,human existence and our place in the universe.  My conclusions are bleak and it's showing in the words that are flowing.

The third book was similar to this for a little while.  Everything became dark, but then I took a little break and came back when things were brighter.  The humor flowed once more and the entire thing brightened up.  It really worked for that book.  The same thing will happen.  At some point, the lightness of being will come back and suddenly everything will look bright again.

So my conclusion in all of this is that I'm totally insane and it's showing up in my writing.  The reader will never know what they're going to get from one chapter or short story to the next.  In all seriousness, the humor can't be forced, but neither can the moody stuff.  I'm finding that it's best if I go with the flow of whatever I'm writing.

I mentioned that writing the dark stuff feels good.  It's hard to explain, but that's the way it is.  The weather so far in this book is overcast and snowing.  The city is evil and danger lurks around every corner.  The building that's safe is an inn that's built of stone with a wall around it, both signs that the surroundings are dangerous.  Another safe place is a manor that looks like a haunted house with ivy, roses and willow trees around it.  Another setting is a dark church with crows.  These are all indicators of my mood.

Writing about these places is like a soothing caress on my soul.  Trying to force humor would be like rubbing a cat backwards right now.   I'm learning every day as I write.  Sometimes the scenery of the journey I'm on fascinates me and that's what I'm going through now.

I always find myself wondering what's going to happen next.


marsanderson said...

One of my favorite things about your writing is the balance and flow between light and dark. Neither side/emotion ever feels forced.

John H. Carroll said...

That's wonderful. :) Sometimes I'm not too sure if I get it right. :)

Thank you!