We all love to laugh, and make others laugh in turn. However, it’s not always so easy to entreat those coveted snickers, snorts, giggles, and guffaws through our writing.
Cheri Steinkellner’s TED-ed talk entitled “How to Make Your Writing Funnier” offers a few tips and tricks to help young authors view the humor in both everyday worlds and worlds that only exist in our imaginations.
First, consider your daily life. Observe. What do you see or experience that could be construed as funny? Writers use these seemingly mundane set-ups all the time. Why? Because walking into a flagpole is funny… so long as it doesn’t happen to you. As Will Rogers said, “Everything’s funny, so long as it happens to somebody else.”
Next, Steinkellner describes the rule of “Zig Zig Zag.” This is where you set up a recognizable pattern (Zig Zig) and at the last minute, introduce an element of surprise (Zag.) Surprise is a powerful tool in comedy. We find funny things we don’t expect, like a talking donkey inserted into a magical Scottish Isle. Something as ridiculous as a man jumping out of a cake could be surmised as more stupid than side-stitching. What makes it hilariously funny is that no one in the room expected it.
Another tip Steinkellner offers is: The Rule of K. For whatever reason, a K sound catches our ears. It’s sharp, requires the tongue to kiss the back of the teeth, and must be directed forward, or else it will become indistinguishable. (Try saying carrot in the back of your throat with your tongue pulled all the way back. It doesn’t work so well.) K-words are sharp and surprising, and as such, can add a little extra “zing” into your comedy.
Writing comedy can be tricky. What you find hilarious can be downright boring or offensive to others. Steinkellner closes her talk by remind us that “Humor is subjective. Comedy is trial and error. Writing is rewriting. Just keep trying. Find the flaws, discover the details, insert incongruities, incorporate k-words, and remember the most important rule of writing funny: have fun.”
If you learned something from today’s post, we invite you to share it with a young writer who could benefit from it too! Stay tuned for more writing tips as we count down toward our upcoming Webinar on June 15th, “From First Draft to Published: Self-Editing Techniques for Young Writers!”
*** COMING JUNE 15TH: Webinar: “From First Draft to Published: Self-Editing Techniques for Young Writers.”
Are you an aspiring author? We most cordially invite you to join our highly anticipated Webinar specifically crafted for young writers! Join our own Dr. Julie Radachy and guest expert Trisha J. Wooldridge, former President of Broad Universe, and experienced writer, editor, and journalist, to delve into the mystical world of writing. Through this Webinar, you can expect to learn the TOP FIVE STRATEGIES to help you edit your own writing, as well as HOW TO EDIT for tense and timeliness, adverbs and adjectives, filter words, prepositions, and telling words. Join us on Thursday, June 15th at 4pm PST/ 7pm EST. We can’t wait to see you there!
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