Friday, April 29, 2011

W is for Wit and Humor in Writing

Laughter is good for us. But injecting wit and humor into writing demands skill. Joining us today from Australia to talk about the challenge of infusing humor into our writing is Sci/Fi Futuristic Romance author Angela Verdenius.

I agreed to do a blog – no, I volunteered to write about Wit & Humor in, well, writing. I agree to do these things, ‘cause at the time it seems a really great idea, then as the day nears that it’s due, I start to ask myself – yet again – why I do this to myself? What if I flop badly? What if not only the readers but also the owner of the blog, hates it? In a nutshell, I…have no idea. ROTFL

I write Sci-fi/futuristic romance, and have also recently written a horror/satire short story. I’m really proud of that one, I had so much fun screwing with protocol, political correctness, and zombies! I’m currently working on my first contemporary romance.

I believe that wit and humor can exist in almost any genre – urban fantasy, biographies, romance, horror, thrillers – you name it. The secret is…HOW does one incorporate wit and humor into the written word?

I can’t tell you that. I know, I just burst your bubble. Humor is a very touchy subject. What one reader (and the author, let’s be honest) laughs like a hyena at, the other reader will roll his/her eyes and tell all and sundry what utter garbage they just read.

I can tell you how I write it. Having a bit of toilet humor and a liking for sarcasm (sad but true, people, just ask my long-suffering mother), I like to inject some of that into my books. Some titles I deliberately set out to have a lot of humor (read my Love’s titles. Please. I need the money). My heroines say the most outrageous things to try and get out of situations. I basically let rip and have them say all those things I would love to say to someone in that situation. My heroes are usually left flummoxed. Always a good thing with humorous romances.

Of course, not all my books are witty (some would say none of them are, but I’m not going to interview them, okay?), such as my Soul and most of my Heart books (read these titles. Please. I need to keep my cats in the comfort to which they’ve become accustomed), but I think they still need a touch of humor, be it a little dark, or just something to give a smile. Really, can a romance be a romance without a touch of lightness here and there?

So what I am saying, people, is that what I write is how I tend to speak myself. Most times. Okay, I wouldn’t say some of what I write to a church minister, because even I draw the line somewhere, but when I write a humor piece, I set out with the right attitude, a lightness of mind, and I put myself into the heroine’s shoes. I write what I think is funny. If it’s clumsy, I’ll take it out.

The dialogue rolls from my mind, to my tongue, to the page. Sometimes my heroine will say things I’d LOVE to say but am not game enough, other times I think, “she is so me!” Scarily, I’ve had a friend who says she can see me in the heroines.

Basically, I believe you write how you think, there is no other way. Some readers will love it (same sense of humor), others will hate it (not-same sense of humour), and others will be ‘ho-hum’ (I can’t figure them out myself).

So is there a secret? Can anyone go out and write a gut-busting, witty book? I don’t believe you can. I don’t believe there’s a secret formula. It has to come from within yourself, what YOU think is funny, how YOU believe your witty heroine would answer someone or act, how YOU would answer it. Individual readers will see your book as funny or not. That’s the down and dirty truth.

So all I can say is…write how you would respond. You might find it funny, someone else might not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, the ball rolls, my cat destroys toilet paper… it just is. (I hope no one is taking note of grammar here).

I truly believe that we all write as differently as we perceive the story and the world around us.

So who is my number one favourite humorous & witty author? Janet Evanovich – her Stephanie Plum books rule!


Angela Verdenius


Angela Verdenius lives in Australia, where she is ruled by her cats, adores reading, and thinks a perfect day is writing and drinking Diet Coke, followed by reading or a good horror movie.

Angela has written 18 novels and 2 novellas, self-published a short horror story, and her books have won many reviewers’ awards as well as having been on the Fictionwise best-seller list. Soul of a Guardian won the Golden Rose Award, and she was a finalist in the Australian Romance Reader’s Awards.

Learn more about Angela at:

Available now at Wings ePress


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post - enjoyed your humor in it, Angela. Don't think I can write it though - maybe it needs to be part of a person's natural personality.

Unknown said...

ANGELA--is that photo really you? You're so beautiful! Love that picture of you laughing.
Wit and have that in spades, which makes me wonder why you aren't as successful as the Janet Evan....person. I am not a funny person, yet I've written a couple of things that had humor in them, which surprised even me. And it was fun.
I enjoyed reading your post so much--very entertaining.
See you around...on Wings? Which I don't spend a lot of time on...but I do have a book there. Celia

Herman and Dori said...

I have a dry sarcastic humor. I love hyperbole. I use humor to emphasize outrageous images. In my blog the other day I wrote about my bulimic cat being startled by the weather alarm going off…and inhaling his breakfast through his left nostril. Death by Fancy Feast. I cannot write without humor. It creeps into scenes whether I want it there or not. But to teach someone how to write humor… unless they have the natural ability to twist the ordinary upside down and inside out…I don’t know if it really is possible. Great post, Angela. Enjoyed it.

linda_rettstatt said...

I agree that humor can be infused into almost any type of writing, if the author knows how to do that. Nothing worse than forced humor. I think most of my books have scenes here or there that could make the reader laugh. My book, Finding Hope, is the most humorous and the one book that was the most fun to write. And, yes, the humor in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels is fantastic.

Palmaltas said...

Janet Evanovich is my favorite "humor" author also. I try to include humor in everything I write, whether romance or mystery. Love the post, Angela!

Sandra Cox said...

Hi Angela,
Great post.
You know, I'm a fan:)

Angela Verdenius said...

Hi all

thanks so much for your posts.

Rosemary - I think you're right, humor is part of a person's personality. It just depends on that person's humor if everyone else agrees!

Celia - I wish that photo was me! Add some years, some pounds, some -no, make that lots of cat hair - on my clothes, and you have Zooming-Towards-Middle-Age-Cat-Mad-Writer!

Kimberley - I've read some of your blog *snigger*. That humor really is something! Plus the fact that I am in complete agreement with cat antics!

Linda - re: the Stephanie Plum books. Mate! Sister! We have this in common! LOL

Tricia - another soul sister SP fan!

Sandra - aw, mate, I cried when I read your lovely books on cats. If anyone here is a cat lover, check out Sandra's books!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my blog and comment. It is so appreciated (ignore my grammar, I'm sure my editor would cringe if she read this), and thank you to Linda for opening her blog to me!


Margaret West said...

I think the saying 'ya can't please everyone'goes here when it comes to humour. I write comedy romances and bittersweet, both I think come from some aspect of my multiple don't have one? Mmm, I thought all authors had at least two. One totally insane for putting ourselves through the pressure of writing and the other that comes up with the brillient storylines :-)

Therese said...

Enjoyed your post, Angela! I do think a writer's personality plays a part in how much humor is in his/her writing and how well it works in the writing. And Linda,I laughed out loud several times when reading Finding Hope.