Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Search of Humor

I’ve always been told I have a demented sense of humor and parts of that show up in my books.

Namely, I like to take real life and give it a wild twist to the right. Although there have been times when real life is totally funnier than fiction.

Back in 1982 I decided I wanted to write a book about a male housekeeper. My previous books had some humor in them, but I wanted to do something that I hoped would come up laugh out loud. I figured the best way was a role reversal book. Single mom with rambunctious five-year-old twin boys, a large sheepdog, demanding career, and the need for a housekeeper. Doesn’t sound all that laugh out loud, does it? So factor in boys who only have to breathe to get into mischief. While there were chuckles with our sexy housekeeper -- can a man really read the back of a laundry detergent box – it was still the kids and dog that added to the fun factor.

But the fact part about those boys was actually funnier than the fiction. You see, the two boys were based on a mischievous four-year-old girl who was in my preschool church class. Think long dark hair, angelic face, always wore the cutest dresses, and she gave her brothers a run for their money. Her mother gave me enough stories to use for a lifetime.

While I love using humor with my main characters, it’s my secondary characters that really up the humor ante.

I’ve used my parrots, dogs, tortoise, friends’ kids, even a friend’s husband with some of his disasters. My husband even said “did Terry say you could use him?” and I said “no, but Susan did”. ‘Nuf said? Terry’s in two books, Susan’s boys are in various books, and even her evil cat showed up in a few.

One friend’s blind date was way too good not to use. Same with another friend’s speeding ticket.

I always beg to be allowed to use their tales, and so far, they’ve allowed it. Do I have great friends or what?

Because they let me take their disasters and turn them into something demented and just flat out fun.

I’ve written romantic suspense, dramatic romance, but humor is something I enjoy writing the most.

Besides, can you imagine Fluff and Puff allowing themselves to be dark and dangerous when they can be fuzzy terrors of the boardwalk instead?

Which means if you’re eating funnel cake and see a pair of fangy bunny slippers nearby, you may as well hand over the funnel cake. They’ll get it anyway.



  1. I agree with having secondary characters that add humor too, Linda. :) They can be real cutups. :)

  2. Ditto, Linda!
    As a writer, I love creating characters who can say and do virtually anything. The supporting players are far more free than H & H, and sometimes they do some really crazy stuff. I love them!

  3. yep, real life is GREAT inspiration!!! I've got an idea for a non-fiction that, honestly, no one would believe was real if I wrote it.

  4. A friend got the worst haircut you ever saw. I commiserated with her, I thought, appropriately, but the fact that I was wondering exactly how to describe it must have shown on my face.

    She pointed a finger at me and glared. "You're just going to have to use this in a book, aren't you?"

  5. I love humorous secondary characters, but don't make them too quirky because sometimes they become main characters!

  6. I love the way comediennes look at life. That's all it is sometimes. Just that funny twist to the right as you put it.

    And certainly real life stories have inspired some of the humor in my books too. I wish I'd remember to keep a pad of paper on my person at all times. You never know when someone is going to make a great quip.


  7. Terry -- Very true!

    Cheryl -- And they can get away with so much more too.

    Judi -- I have a real scene every book. Funny part is most people think it's the fictional ones that's real!

    MM -- LOL! Did you? I had one of those haircuts too.

    Shana -- My guys even have their own fan clubs, so I guess they believe they're main characters.

    Ash -- Always have a pad with you! I keep one in my SUV's center console along with a smaller one in my bag. You just never know when you'll need it.

  8. Linda~ Secondary characters are the best and usually the funniest.

    A lot of my ideas come from real life. For instance, the grilled cheese sandwich from Breakfast in Bed. Rich doesn't know that Kraft cheese has individually wrapped slices, he put the cheese, plastic and all right onto the bread and in the frying pan. One of my aunts actually did that. She ate her whole sandwich before my cousin took a bite of hers and discovered the plastic. {shakes head} My mother is angry with my aunt because she refuses to buy a book she can get for free at a library--including mine. I told my mom not to worry about it. As long as my aunt keeps giving me great ideas, I don't have a problem :)

  9. Loved the post, Linda. I agree that the most fun can be had with the secondary characters. In my WIP I have an aunt in the book and I'm just loving her because she will say anything!

  10. Linda--you are so right; sometimes things are just so funny and amazing that they have to be written down!

  11. GREAT post, Linda!

    And LOVE that kitty pic!

    Yes, truth is always stranger than fiction, and I'm often inspired by 'real life' events, but I try to fictionalize them just a bit to disguise them... JUST in case. :-)


  12. Robin -- Don't you love people who can give you great stuff like that?

    Amelia -- Those are the kind of characters I totally love and you never know what they'll say.

    Danielle -- Written down before we forget them.

    AC -- I always say I change the names to protect the guilty.

  13. Yep, secondary characters are great for that!

    I try to give all my characters a funny bone, even if it is only the size of a phalanges. Everyone can be funny now and again. Well, I have known a handful of people in my life who had zero sense of humor, but then they also had zero personality so I probably wouldn't write a person like that. Unless it was so others could make fun of him/her!

    People always ask if my characters are based on people I know and the answer is no. At least not completely. But real life people and real life happenings filter in all the time. "Write what you know" is a common phrase among writers. Good advice to heed. :)

  14. I had a hard time getting past the pic of that kitten, Linda. :} Interesting post on how you bring humor into your books--thx!

  15. Sharon -- My friends tell me when they 'see' me in my books and 'hear' me. Hm, that's dangerous!

    Thanks Kathryne!