“Ha ha, I thought; and, after some reflection, tee hee.”

tumblr_mgu38e5MLg1s3g657o1_400I was asked if I had any tips for writing humor. Most of you know by now that I can’t not write humor into my stories. If a book or movie or TV show has no humor, I don’t like it. Simple as that.  Therefore, even my darker books like Acceso have a pervading sense of humor. In fact, each novel has a different Kind of humor, and this is very important. You want your books to have your style, but to sound different, to be themselves. Acceso‘s humor is sharp and uncomfortable. This Mortal Coil’s humor tends to be darkly sarcastic, but there’s a lot of it. The Meaning of Always has a joking, playful sense of humor. Paper Crowns…well, the book is half-comedy. Even Monster has funny moments to lighten the mood.

Now, since obviously I can’t tell you how to have a sense of humor, I figured the most I could do was give you a few hopefully-helpful things and let you run away with them. Do they help? Have you written a line or a paragraph you find particularly fun? Let me know!

ONE

One important thing to remember is that every character is different. Within your books, you can have a dozen hilarious characters, but if they all sound the same (*cough*CassandraClare*cough*) the reader will catch on, and it will bring the believability of your characters down. When I tried to get through City of Bones, the thing that stuck out to me was the humor. At the beginning, it was hilarious. Simon made me laugh out loud several times. And then Jace showed up, and…hey, his sense of humor sounded just like Simon’s. Then I tried Clockwork Angel, and Will sounded suspiciously like the other two. It was so redundant, it ceased to be funny.

TWO

There are many different /kinds/ of humor. Slapstick – in which someone walks into a door. Sarcasm – in which someone is too witty for their own good. Straight – in which someone says something funny with no expression whatsoever. Tongue in Cheek – in which someone is funny as though they were being serious. Joking – in which the prankster ties two pairs of shoelaces together. Humor is not just ‘humor,’ and the KIND of humor will vary depending on the character. A highly intelligent character is probably going to be witty and sarcastic. A fun-loving, lighthearted character will probably love to play jokes on people. Someone trying to cheer someone up frequently employs ‘straight’ humor, and slapstic is generally unintentional. But play with these stereotypes – mix it up! Maybe the uber-smart guy loves slapstick. Maybe the shy girl is actually a prankster.

THREE

As with anything else, practice will help you get better. Yes, humor is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Also, don’t try too hard. Forced humor tends to be awkward and falls short of the intended reaction. If you aren’t feeling particularly fun, try reading a book that makes you laugh, or watching a show that does the same. Immersing yourself in the kind of humor you want to write will rub off on you – trust me.

FOR EXAMPLE

I said how each of my books has a different sense of humor, and since I tend to work well by example, I thought I’d give some to you! Remember to vary your humor from book to book and character to character, and you should do just fine.

I come here now and then when I need a caffeine fix, but I’m not really the sort of guy who digests all the details of a café. “It’s nice.”

            “Nice?” She shrugs. “Well, nice. Yeah. It has great coffee, and the orange rolls are to die for.”

            “I’ll have to try it some time,” I say.

            “An orange roll?” she asks, turning toward me. “Or dying?”

            “Both.”

            “Everyone has to die sometime,” she says. “But not everyone has to try Theo’s orange rolls.”

            I smile a little. “So,” I ask out of curiosity, “who’s Theo?”

            She gets a funny look on her face, like she’s excited to tell me. “Well,” she says, “you know Van Gogh?”

            “Not personally,” I say.

            She laughs and carries on. “Anyway, his brother’s name was Theo.”

            “So,” I say slowly, digesting the information, “you named the café after Van Gogh’s brother.”

            “Right.”

            Now came the all-important next question. “Why?”

            “Because the guy who owns it is an art collector,” she answers readily.  “And he likes Van Gogh.”

– Acceso

“My Weres won’t cause any trouble,” said Rukiel calmly, folding his arms. “They will, however, be effective in subduing it should it arise.”

            “I’ll take your word for it,” said Skata.

            To his surprise, Rukiel held out his hand, no hint of irony or mockery on his face. “Then you have it,” he said, his voice measured. “I will provide safety for my patrons, and as soon as the ball is over and you have what you need, we will disappear.”

            Skata lifted his hand and clasped the shifter’s for a brief moment before dropping it. “Good.”

            Angel clasped his hands together and said, his dark voice dripping with sarcasm, “Oh, wonderful. My congratulations to the happy couple.”

            “Shut up, vampire,” said Skata, turning to face him. “I’m not in the mood.”

            “For what?” the vampire asked, opening his eyes wide.

            “You,” Skata retorted. “Don’t make me mess up your pretty face.”

            “My stars,” said Angel with glee, “he thinks I’m pretty.”

            “Angel,” said Rukiel, rubbing his forehead, “stop.”

            The vampire sighed. “You two are as dull as Skata’s wit.”

            Skata turned and hit Angel’s arm solidly with his fist. “I told you to shut it.”

            Angel let out a yelp and rubbed his arm, even though Skata knew perfectly well the blow hadn’t hurt him in the least. “You Americans are so violent,” he complained.

            “Now that we’re getting along,” said Rukiel, turning to Skata, “if you’ll follow me to the lounge, I can introduce you to the Weres. I don’t want you meeting them and getting suspicious on the big night.”

            “Fine,” said Skata. He left the room, picking up his coat as Rukiel followed. “Get those invitations sent out, Angel,” he called.

            “I love it when you use my name,” the vampire called.

            Skata turned, ready to start a fight he couldn’t win, but Rukiel grabbed his arm with a grip that belied his small size. “He does that to egg you on,” he reminded the hunter. “Don’t let him get to you.”

            “After this shindig, I’m never looking at him again,” Skata answered through his teeth.

            “That’s the spirit,” said Rukiel, walking out the front door into the windy morning air. “Come with me.”

– This Mortal Coil

.  “It smells like cookies in here,” I said suddenly.

            His eyes widened. “You can smell them on the street?”

            “No – just now.”

            He relaxed. “Whew,” he said, grinning and closing the doors. “I’d hate to have to deal with a crowd of hungry cookie-eaters.”

            “What are they for? The cookies, I mean,” I asked, feeling that casual conversation was the best thing for the moment.           

            “Ah…” He scratched his ear. “Eating?”

            I let out a small, one-syllable laugh that took me by surprise. “Right,” I said. “My bad.”

            “It happens all the time,” he said affably. “Cookies do, after all, look a lot like both Frisbees and compact discs. It’s an honest mistake.”

– The Meaning of Always

“I hate to be mean about anything,” I said, panting and trying to keep up with Astryn, “but I’m really tired of snow.”

            “It’s not my fault,” he said.

            “It’s your weather,” I said.

            “It’s your kingdom,” he said.

            Halcyon sneezed.

            “How much longer?” I asked, sighing. I had done a lot of sighing over the last week, I realized; but then, constant exasperation did that to a person.

            “As the crow flies? Half a mile,” said Astryn. “As the little short-legged princess walks? Two, at least.”

            “I hope Somebody gives you a big hug when we find him,” I said. My leaden feet refused to move another step and I fell flat on my face, creating an impromptu snow angel.

 “Go on without me,” I said, muffled. “Leave me to die in peace.”

– Paper Crowns

Confessions of a poptimistic writer

nightGrowing up, my favorite fairytales were, of course, the ones that ended with, “and they lived Happily Ever After.” Happy stories, ones where the prince and the princess got married after defeating the evil villain and birds and mice cheered, and everything was perfect. The older I get, however, the more I prefer a bittersweet ending, an ending that leaves you a little sad; mournful for those who died, or fell away, and a little happy for those who survived and did get happy endings. A satisfying ending, but one we can relate to. In real life – even if I’m reading a fairytale – complete happy endings where justice is served to everyone we dislike and everyone we love gets to live out the rest of their days without trouble don’t happen. The only true Happy Ending hasn’t come yet, and so until then, we all have our own endings (or beginnings, however you want to look at it) and not all of them are happy.

‘The point, gentlemen, is that they lived.’

I like to call myself a poptimist because- a pessimist + an optimist = a poptimist. I love to show things for how they are; the shadows for their darkness and the light for its brightness, the brokenness for what it is and the joy for all it can be. I began to think about all this about half an hour ago, because I was writing in Acceso and I realized that, while Acceso’s main character has the most struggles, the most personal demons, the most difficult personality to deal with, Acceso also probably has the happiest ending of any of my novels. I knew it would from the time I began to write it. A difficult book needs a happier ending. Contrariwise, my happier novels – The Meaning of Always, The Care and Keeping of Jupiter – have very bittersweet endings. I’ve discovered through my years of writing that people’s souls connect with truth more than they do with an idealized ending, my own soul included. It’s easier to believe in a poptimist ending than a happily ever after – for now. But we can never forget that at the end of time, the world will have such a Happily Ever After that even the mountains will sing of it. Until then, we give people hope, we help them feel, and we create broken, beautiful things because we live in a broken, beautiful world and we should give people a glimpse of heaven amid the fragments.

Snippets and a surprise

I realized it’s been months since I’ve done a Snippets post! I’ve been working on so many things and been so busy with graduation and Summit, etc. that it plumb slipped my mind. (Fun fact: I’ve always wanted to use ‘plumb’ in a sentence. Amelia Bedelia taught me well.) But before I get on to the snippets, I want to announce a little bit of blog expanding! I have now created a Tumblr as a companion to {Wishful Thinking} – I’m not on pinterest, but on Pretty Wit & Shiny Things you’ll get to see what inspires and makes me happy. I hope you enjoy looking; it probably won’t be as regular as this blog, but I’m excited to show it to you.

~ Pretty Wit & Shiny Things ~

And now, on to Snippets – though I really should start calling them ‘sections’ as they’re too long to be proper snippets. I’ll give you one of each, since they’re lengthier than average.

I realize with a jump that the timer’s going off. I grab the oven mitts and pull out the last bunch of cupcakes. “The last herd’s out.”

            “The last what?”

            I pull the oven mitts off. Pink isn’t my color. “The herd. Flock. Group. Whatever you call a bunch of baked stuff.”

            Her face is turning the color of the mitts I just took off. “Batch,” she says through her teeth. I wonder when the laugh is going to burst through her stoic attempt at holding it back.

            “Fine,” I say. “That’s the last batch, then.”

– Acceso

 

I followed him as we climbed onto the bucket and pulled the door closed. I eyed it with suspicion. “Is that really supposed to keep us from falling out? I mean, the wheel in London was like a glass room, not…this.”

            “We’ll be fine, as long as nobody does this,” he said, and swung his legs. The bucket rocked backwards and my hands shot out, grabbing the side.

            “Don’t do that!” I shrieked, my heart hammering.

            “We aren’t off the ground yet,” he said, staring at me with an amused grin on his face.

            “Stop grinning before I punch your face,” I said, letting my hands slide off the side. “Seriously, I’m not good with…unsteady heights.”

            “I bet you are.” He leaned back, the picture of comfort. “I’m probably the one who’ll end up in your lap, screaming like a girl.”

            I gave him a sly sideways glance. “You’re just trying to end up in my lap, aren’t you?”

            “Chivalrous knights never take advantage of gracious fair maidens,” he answered. He leaned forward and I tensed, but he was not rocking the bucket, only looking at the door.

            I leaned forward, trying to balance my weight to prevent my headfirst topple, and read the words scratched into the plastic. A crude heart encircled the words H lovs S always.

            “I’m glad we got this seat,” he said, touching the words with the tip of his finger before relaxing again. “We can pretend that’s us.”

            “They misspelled ‘loves,’” I pointed out.

            “All the more for uniqueness.”

            “They probably aren’t even together anymore.”

            “They did say ‘always,’” he answered.

– The Meaning of Always

 

“For an American, you clean up rather well.”

            Skata looked in the mirror and sighed. Angel crossed the room behind him, eyeing the brown leather coat and hat strewn across the bed with distaste. “You aren’t going to wear those, are you?”

            “What, you don’t think they go with my suit?” Skata was wearing a suit for the first time in years, and felt distinctly uncomfortable. The gray fabric was hard to move in; every seam and stitch seemed designed to keep him from freedom of movement.

            “You might say that.”

            “I’m wearing them.” Skata lifted a blackwood stake, a vial of coriander, and a small pouch of salt from the dresser and watched as Angel inched away out of caution. He tucked them into his waistcoat and pulled the jacket on.

            “I hope you aren’t planning on wearing them inside,” said Angel with distaste. The vampire had arrived at Skata’s apartment to make certain the hunter didn’t attend the party ‘looking like a beggar.’

            “I’ll take them off in the foyer, same as everybody else.” Skata shrugged the coat on and set the hat on his head. At least with those two items, he felt a bit more like himself and less like the fashionable vampire.

            “I suppose you’ll have to do,” said Angel critically.

            “You look like a fop,” said Skata.

            Angel expertly tugged the lace around his wrists into position. “Is that supposed to offend me?”

            “You’d better get going,” said Skata. “We can’t have the host being late for his own party.”

            “How thoughtful of you.” Angel turned to the door, the tails of his long coat swishing about his ankles. “I would invite you to join me in the carriage, but as I know you’ll refuse I’ll simply say stay dry, and don’t be late.”

            “Can’t help it if it rains,” said Skata, “and I won’t be.”

– This Mortal Coil

“Okay, sooo.” Talking aloud, I clicked onto the ProtoTypes Lab website. Just glancing at the prices on the side was enough to make my bank account scream for mercy. $250,000 for a used proto with only three weeks left? Who on earth spent half a million dollars on a proto and then gave it away before its time ran out?

            I clicked the tab that said Customize Your Order. A new page opened and images spilled across the screen – eyes, lips, noses, arms, hair, skin color.

            I opened my media player and turned on some music. This was going to take a while.

– The Care and Keeping of Jupiter