Monday, April 27, 2009

Fire Me -- Writing the Comedic Novel

Do you hear that thumpa-thumpa? That's my heart beating fast as I anticipate the official release of Fire Me on May 1! Actually, the book's been shipping early, if amazon is any guide, and I was thrilled to receive my own copies from Sourcebooks a week ago.

And let me say again -- they are gorgeous! The finished book is slightly different than the ARC, with a deeper blue on the cover that really pops and the lovely blurb from Melissa Senate.

I know folks might be tired of me recapping Fire Me's story, but for those who don't know, it follows PR specialist Anne Wyatt through one crazy work day as she tries to "win" a lay-off and the severance package that goes with it (since she's leaving for another job anyway). She learns a lot about herself and love in the process.

Fire Me is a comedy (uh, ya think? LOL!) which presented all sorts of challenges to this writer as I struggled to come up with funny situations, turns of phrase or ideas that worked as smile- or giggle-inducers on the page.

Slapstick works well on film because it's so visually immediate, zinging its way to the "funny bone" part of the brain (yes, that's a technical term; I'm sure of it; I checked WebMD). But if you try describing a pratfall in words, you immediately see how hard it is to make it have the same comedic impact.

So I really had to think about many passages in the book, often re-writing them, searching for that elusive funny moment. And I had to balance the physcial comedy in the novel with sly humor in dialogue and the characters' own sometimes off-kilter outlooks on the world.

It's odd to think of writing comedy as such an intensely intellectual task, but for me, it was--or rather, a combination of thinking and telling myself not to overthink it! (No wonder Anne is so crazy!)

I hope I succeeded. Early reviewers seem to think so, which is gratifying. A common thread running through critiques is that reviewers laughed, chuckled, or giggled out loud.

As I've thought about Fire Me's release and the process I used to form this tale, I've thought a lot about what makes me laugh when reading a book and what some of my favorite humorous books or book passages are. You show me yours and I'll show you mine! Tell me what funny books are among your favorites, or what comedic moments in books really had you smiling. I'd love to know!

Oh, and if you're in Lancaster, PA on Saturday May 2, stop by the local Barnes & Noble at 2 p.m. -- I'll be signing copies of Fire Me then.


  1. Romantic comedy is a great favorite of mine. I love to laugh, and even the humorous moments in a drama are what makes it for me. I'm sure I'll enjoy what you've written
    Congrats and good luck on the new release!

  2. Good luck on the new release!

    I read a lot of mysteries, and love the funny ones, especially those written by Joan Hess. Her comedy comes from the characters, and that's my favorite kind of humor, I think.

    I give you huge kudos... writing 'funny' is the hardest thing to do!

  3. Good luck on the new release! :) I love anything with a little humor. And I can't write anything, no matter how dark, without adding humor. But to me, writing straight romantic comedy is really hard to do. So kudos to you! :)

  4. Enjoy your release week, and congrats on the reviews!

  5. So many launches coming up! How exciting!!! Best of luck, Libby. I know it will be a hit.

    I love comedy, both in film and books. The only kind I am not as fond of is the so-called 'dark comedy' and pure slapstick ala Marks' Brothers-type stuff. I loved Dave Barry's books for sheer ridiculous humor. "Big Trouble" kills me!

    I love writing my humor as the playfulness that occurs naturally with some people or between long-time friends. Everyone knows that oddball, eccentric relative who can make anything funny. That is what I try to capture in my more serious historical fiction. Gotta lighten it up from time to time!

  6. I agree with you on the dark comedy--if it's too dark, I just can't get into it. I had trouble with the movie Burn After Reading because of that.

    I've laughed out loud while reading Janet Evanovich books.

    And also while reading a more serious author, Mark Helprin, who injects his poignant novels with some flashes of crazy humor.

  7. Hi Libby~

    I write Romantic Comedy too so of course I adore it. I can't wait to read your book!

    Robin :)

  8. "Burn After Reading" was a horrible movie, IMHO. I really hated it. Perfect example of the kind of 'humor' that I just do not get.

  9. Sharon,

    I thought the Coen Brothers' Raising Arizona was funny and still get a laugh from it when I see it show up on TV. But Burn After Reading was way too dark for me, with nothing that lifted me up beyond the violence. None of the characters were likable, if I recall.

  10. I loved Fire Me. It's like the Devil Wears Prada in reverse.

  11. Thank you, Keira! I just read your review this morning and it made my day!

  12. You know my favorite kind of humor comes from dialogue rather than situations. I love it when a hero and heroine are trading barbs lightning fast. Think My Fair Lady.

    I'm sure your book will be a big hit!

  13. HURRAY on your release, Libby!

    Not much longer to wait now. :-)

    I agree, I've actually laughed so loud at some of the Stephanie Plum books that my dogs gave me funny looks. Ditto on a couple of Jenny Crusie's stories, "Faking It" and one with a bassett hound whose title escapes me at the moment...

    I don't put much humor in my books, but like Sharon, I do LOVE when the main characters toss a few zingers at each other. ;-)


  14. Great post, Libby!

    I've always loved writing comedy and I enjoy reading it.

    I can't wait to read your book!


  15. Libby--
    Your funny book made my jury duty fly by! I love to laugh--who doesn't?--so anything funny and poignant is a go with me! I loved the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella (too bad the movie wasn't that great) and I really love Sourcebooks import from the UK, Jill Mansell--her books are fun women's fiction to the max!

  16. Congratulations!

    I remember my English teacher telling me it's way harder to make people laugh than cry. Sounds like you've succeeded.