Thursday, April 11, 2013

Make 'em Laugh by Charlotte Carter

I can’t help myself. Humor slips into my books. It’s just there even in my most emotional stories. So can I teach you to write humor? Assuming you have a sense of humor, I can give you some tools that will help you give your readers a smile and maybe a laugh.

Humor starts with a Premise ~  you add surprise and exaggeration and keep asking yourself how you can make it funnier.

Humor comes from the sense of reality, exaggerated and distorted. Humor begins with what if . . . .

In my book Courting Cupid, (a Love & Laughter written as Charlotte Maclay) a female apprentice Cupid accidentally shoots an arrow into her own foot. Instead of her “target” falling in love with the intended woman, he falls in love with her.

Humor keys into something we can all relate to ~ the heroine who desperately wants the hero to notice her and makes a mess of things trying to get his attention; the unease of being in an unfamiliar situation and making a fool of yourself; the agony of having our children misbehave at the absolute worst possible time.

There are 3 basic types of humor:
·       Character
·       Situational
·       Physical

In a humorous story that is character driven, the protagonist has a strong comic perspective. This is the ‘dumb blonde’ in Susan Elizabeth’s book who knows darn well she’s as smart as any of the men, but she’s going to let them figure that out for themselves.

Please note: while the character is funny to the reader, she is totally serious about her goals.

Situational comedy relies on a bizarre circumstance, often the familiar ‘fish-out-of-water’ situation.

Physical comedy is pretty obvious ~ it’s the pie in the face, Pratt fall or the guy that walks around a banana peel and drops down manhole.

Chances are good, however, you don’t want to write a funny book. You simply want to add some humor.

Try setting up you story with Contrasting Characters 
·       The hero who never smiles vs. the effervescent heroine
·       The playboy hero vs. the prim heroine
·       The tough guy vs. the naive heroine
·       The sexually experienced male vs. the innocent heroine

Or let your Secondary Characters carry the humor. 
We don’t want to risk our lead characters looking foolish by having them do really dumb things. To avoid this you can add humor (and insight) via a secondary character. Siblings, best friends, grocery store clerk, in-laws, parents, and ne’re-do-well relatives. Because I most often write family stories, my favorite source of humor is children. They can be so much fun....and thoroughly embarrass their parents.

Dialogue can create humor by the use of 
·       Rapid fire speech
·       Clever one liners
·       Unusual curses
·       Witty dialogue

Dialogue in contrast to thoughts 
Often it’s what the characters are thinking, not what they say, that adds humor. Here is where you can use deep Point of View to reveal character and give your readers a laugh or a smile.

Julie Lessman identifies some of the ways she brings humor to her stories. 
·       Analogy/Metaphor/Simile
·       Facial Features
·       Sibling Rivalry
·       Sarcasm (use care here not to make your character too snarky)

If you’d like more details and examples about writing humor, check out the Articles at my Website
Purchase Link

Happy writing......Char
Books that leave you smiling . . .
Home to Montana, Love Inspired, 3/2012
Montana Wrangler, Love Inspired, 7/2012

Dora here. Now it’s your turn.
Do you enjoy reading books that make you laugh?
How do you inject humor into your writing?

Charlotte Carter has authored more than 50 romance and cozy mysteries for various Harlequin lines, Dorchester and Guideposts Books. She is currently writing for the Harlequin Love Inspired romance line. Her books have won the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Orange Rose Contest and various awards from Romantic Times.

An active member of Orange County and Faith, Hope and Love chapters of Romance Writers of America, she is a frequent speaker for community groups and workshop presented for writers’ organizations.

Charlotte lives in Southern California with her husband of 50 years; they have two married daughters and five grandchildren. In her spare time, Charlotte performs standup comedy.


  1. I do like humor in a book, though it's rare to find one that is downright funny.

    Lori Copeland wrote a series about three sisters--Faith, Hope, and June (yes, June). Hope was my favorite. Parts of that book were laugh-out-loud funny.

  2. I adore reading romance with a little laughter thrown in, so I tend to add a little humor to my writing, but I've never really considered how I do it.

    Thanks for sharing the tips, Char!

  3. Sandra, I believe if I can bring someone a smile or laugh, then I've both given and received a special gift.

  4. Dora, I'm happy to share tips. Thanks for inviting me.


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