We can all agree that we can do without more stress and struggles in our lives.
Ain’t nobody got time for more sorrow, more angst and more horror. I think life has enough of that, I mean, just open up a news tab, and you can get your fill.
Humour is a survival technique we all need to embrace.
I write with a dab of humour. (Okay, maybe more than a dab.) After all, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, then where is the joy in that? As a reader, I want to escape into a book and have an adventure. I want to feel like The Hobbit leaving the shire yelling, “I’m going on an adventure!”
Now that adventure can include action, drama and underlying seriousness, but I want to laugh aloud. I want to forget about the real world around me for a few hours.
As a writer, I want to bring that world to you.
Writing with humour is not for everyone. It has been said that either you can do it, and do it well, or you can’t. Either it is in your nature, or it’s not. I agree to some extent, but like any skill, you can learn to improve.
How can you improve your own attempts to write with humour?
“I regard the writing of humor as a supreme artistic challenge.”
—Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing with Humor
Start paying attention to what makes people laugh around you. Pay attention to what causes you to giggle. Study your favourite TV shows and how they deliver the punch lines. Watch stand-up comedians and watch how they set up their jokes and then coax laughter from the crowd. I may or may not have watched countless Rowan Atkinson videos while doing my research.·
Give Your Reader Permission to Laugh
This might seem like a moot point, but giving your reader that sense of freedom brings down barriers and allows the reader to become fully on board with your way of expressing humour. If the character is able to laugh at himself or the situation they find themselves in as it spins out of control, then the reader feels like they can laugh along with the character. When a character is in a situation where the reader can relate and has perhaps found themselves in a similar situation, then they feel free to laugh.
The Rule of 3’s
In Comedy, you often hear things told in threes, for example the three men who walk into a bar. Or, two things that are expected and then one that is unexpected ….or three elements that build up to a punchline. Use these in your writing. I find putting in the unexpected really works for me. This works well when you misdirect your reader and then add that unexpected element.
Exaggeration or Hyperbole
Use this device to create effective moments of drama or laughter. Be careful not to come across as melodramatic, but in the right setting, these work well. Dialogue can often highlight these two best.
A Word of Caution
Be careful when you use sarcasm. It does not always translate on to the page and can be misunderstood. Make sure it works well. Otherwise, stay away. Mean spirited and humiliating humour is uncalled for, always. It’s just not classy, so don’t go there.
Choose metaphors chosen for comedic effect.
Keep the focus on your story
Do not distract your reader too much with your sparkling wit. Humour should be like salt flavouring your work and not overpowering it.
Use giggle-inducing words: Bamboozled, bazinga, buccaneer, cantankerous, cattywumpus, conniption, didgeridoo, gumption, hullabaloo, kerplunk, loopy, lackadaisical, persnickety, waddle and wonky. There are more, look them up.
Tell it like it is
Sometimes just telling it like it really happened is funny enough on its own! Situations can present themselves as comedies, so don’t be afraid to tell it like it is. Plain and simple, with a bit of pizazz of course.
Have fun with it
Don’t force it. Humour has to be organic, natural and relatable.
Do you naturally tend toward humour in your reading and writing? Do you have to work at it?
Melony Teague is a Freelance Writer, Biographer and Author. She loves to bring more laughter to this crazy world. She loves to uncover stories hiding in plain view, but they are remarkable nonetheless and believes that everyone has a story to tell…and sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. She teaches seniors how to write their personal stories.
Her inspirational devotional for writers, As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers released in 2016 and look for news of her upcoming debut Contemporary Romance Novel.
Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter: @melonyteague
Member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
Hey, everyone! I’m Julie, and I’m a writer. In case you’re wondering why I’m introducing myself like I’m at an AA meeting, to me, writing is an addiction. Even when I’m not sitting-with-my-butt-in-the-chair writing, I’m thinking about writing, or about my characters, or how to finish a scene I’ve been struggling with…or which craft tips I can share with other writers.
That’s right, folks! Today, I’m here to share some tips with you on inline editing. I’ve been creative writing since around 2002, shortly after I discovered the TV show Gilmore Girls and felt compelled to write. I started by dabbling in fanfiction, which helped me to find my voice as a writer, but, more importantly, it gave me a crash course in editing-as-you-go.
Inline editing is THE thing, you guys! And while many writers prefer to write the story first and edit later, I am of the edit-as-you-go school of thought. Here’s why:
1. It saves time later.
2. You have a cleaner manuscript to work with.
3. You’ll have more word awareness.
1 – The more inline editing you do while writing the first draft, the less you have to do when you finally type those blessed two words: The End. #winning
2 – Some writers will make notes like ‘insert sex scene here’ and move on with the intention of addressing (or undressing) it later. Some will leave scenes half-finished so they can advance to a more action-packed section. As a writer who edits as I go, maintaining the flow of my story is crucial. By skipping a large chunk in favour of doing the work later, you risk losing the momentum you used to get to that point in the first place.
Having a clean first draft allows me to concentrate on more important things like plot holes, characterization, dialogue, voice, and consistency. I’m able to polish, refine, and strengthen these critical story elements without getting distracted by ‘finish this laters’ or ‘insert heres.’
3 – I just learned the other day (thank you, trivia calendar!) that the average person’s vocabulary contains 20,000 to 35,000 words. And YET…books are FULL of repetition. We all have these words, our go-to words, that spill out of our brains, and we keep subconsciously typing them, over and over again. Words like that, was, and, because, before, when, as, so…and the list goes on.
I recommend making a list of words you tend to overuse so you can find-and-replace them later. I don’t worry about the repetition as much until the end, but if I’m at least conscious of my go-to words, I can try to actively avoid using them while writing. I’m always adding to my list, too, because different words become crutch words with every new book you write.
I’m not a fast writer, but if the words I do write are grammatically correct, typo-free, and achieve what I set out to do, then I’ve really done two jobs in one. Of course, there will be rewrites later to tighten things up, but I don’t need to worry so much about any glaring mistakes or awkward bits a reader might pick up on.
Lastly, when you’re ready, if you’re an indie author, be sure to hire an editor. Though I edit my own work religiously, it’s too near and dear to my heart to release into the wild without another pair or two of eyes reviewing it. Get yourself a critique partner who isn’t afraid to show you some tough love, one who is wise, has a wonderful way with words, and an equal affection for alliteration. No, you can’t have mine. Maggie Wells is my preciousssss. A professional editor is worth their weight in chocolate. Ask your friends or writing group(s) for recommendations. Or ask me!
Well, that’s all from me for now. Hope you found that helpful! If you’d like to follow me on social media, you can find me…
Thanks, and happy writing! 😊
Julie Evelyn Joyce
Julie is a loud and proud Canuck. When she’s not writing quirky and witty romances, she spends her time molding young minds, playing sports, singing karaoke, juggling, and dancing like there’s no tomorrow. Sometimes simultaneously. She’s also in hot pursuit of her own happily ever after, and anxiously awaits the day serial dating becomes an Olympic event. Last but not least, she worships peanut butter and wants to have its delicious babies. And that’s Julie in a nutshell!
Very excited to share that my debut contemporary romantic comedy, STEEPED IN LOVE, is a finalist in the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize! I’ll find out at the end of the month if I’m the big winner! Cross your fingers for me!
My website: http://julieevelynjoyce.com
I have been using Scrivener daily for nearly ten years now. I find Scrivener such a flexible tool for my fiction and nonfiction projects such as creating web pages, presentations, and the occasional blog post.
I like Scrivener because it's flexible and because it suits my workflow. I tend to work on my projects in a non-linear fashion. The graphic is how I’ve set up my Scrivener.
One of the first things I did when I started using Scrivener was to change the default toolbar to meet my needs. I removed the icons which I don’t use and replace them with those I often use such as Copy and Paste Formatting, Start and Stop Speech, and Sync with External Folder icons. I also rearranged them on the toolbar to suit my needs.
Modifying the toolbar is simple. Right-Click on the taskbar and then select Customize Toolbar. A window will open, allowing you to drag icons from the window on the toolbar where you can move them where you want them.
I also use the Right-Click extensively on my mouse to bring up the Context Menu. Depending on which part of Scrivener you are pointing your mouse at, such as the editor or the binder the Context Menu, it will display a slightly different set of task commands.
There are also keyboard shortcuts available which you can find in the menus. The only ones I remember are the cut and paste commands.
Syncing & Backup
If you are on the go, you can sync Scrivener with other devices such as tablets and smartphones. Under File>Sync menu, the following options are available: With Mobile Devices, With External Folder, and With External Folder Now.
The simplest is to use Scrivener’s IOS app and to sync via Dropbox. Be aware Scrivener recommends not to keep the same project open at the same time on multiple devices to avoid syncing problems. You need to close Scrivener on one device before working on your project on another.
I have been playing with this option, but unfortunately, I have the habit of keeping Scrivener always open on my Mac and I know I will forget closing it before I head out to the local coffee shop. Also, syncing using Scrivener’s IOS app would require that I upgrade my current Dropbox account to get additional storage space since some of my project files are quite large.
Instead, I sync my projects with Alfons Schmid’s Notebooks using the With External Folder option via Dropbox. I’ve created Draft folders for each of my projects, and I simply sync my drafts in plain text back and forth. It has been working quite well for me.
Also, I’m a great fan of using Scrivener’s Snapshots feature because it allows me to easily compare differences in the text before and after syncing.
On the Mac Time Machine does an excellent job of backing up your files to an external hard drive. However, in case of fire or theft, it is important to have copies of your critical files off-site.
I use the File>Backup option to create a zip archive of my projects in a backup folder when I close Scrivener. The contents of the backup folder are then uploaded to one of my cloud accounts.
Under the Scrivener>Preferences>Backup you can configure how, when, and where your backups are created.
Scrivener>Preferences gives you a variety of options to configure Scrivener to suit your needs. In most cases, you can leave the defaults as is. If you are new to Scrivener, I would take a few minutes to review them. Then modify the ones you feel would make your life easier.
In the Preference>Editing I’ve set the Default Text zoom to 150% since I find myself squinting at my computer screen.
In the Preference>Editing>Formatting is where I’ve set the default formatting for all my projects since they don’t change much from project to project. The simplest method to set your default settings is using a document you already have formatted the way you like it then click on the Use Formatting in Current Editor command. The other method is to select each of the icons in the ruler to modify the formatting in the Preference>Editing>Formatting window.
If you need to change them for a special project, you can do so under the Project>Project Settings menu.
Preference>SharingThe Conversion preference specifies how your documents will be converted into Microsoft Word or OpenOffice formats. Also, under File>Compile you can set how Scrivener will convert your document into an ePub.
Getting to work
The Binder is where you organise your drafts and research. Organising your binder is a personal and whatever works for you. Depending on the project, I will create a different structure. Some are by dates other by scenes and chapters. Scrivener gives you the flexibility to plan your projects as you see fit.
One thing I like about Scrivener is that it is a plain text editor with limited layout capabilities. I write all my first drafts longhand using a fountain pen in notebooks. When I finish a scene, I type it into the Scrivener where I will polish it until I’m happy with it. I can’t create fiction typing on a computer screen. The constant red squiggly lines interrupt my train of thought.
While Scrivener does allow you to create Tables and insert graphics into your documents, these tools are not as sophisticated as Word or OpenOffice’s layout tools. If I need to create a document-heavy with tables and graphics, I find Word to be a much better tool.
Scrivener styles, under Format>Styles, are more geared towards plain text documents. The Format>Show Styles Panel will display a floating styles window. I don’t use this very much since I usually use only three default styles: one for the headings, one for the first paragraph, and one for the body text.
Also, on my Toolbar I have two icons, Copy Format and Paste Format, which I frequently use to apply to format.
In Scrivener you can view your project as a Document, as a Corkboard, or as an Outline. I usually have the main window split into two views; with the top in Document view while the bottom is either in Document or Outline depending on what task I’m doing. If I’m reviewing and editing, the bottom is in Outline view which helps me gauge my progress.
If you wish, you can vertically split the window by holding Option key and clicking the split icon in the document header.
Locking the Editor
I frequently lock the main Editor to keep it in place and in focus when I’m conducting research or consulting other documents in the bottom view. To lock Right-Click on the document header, then select the Lock in Place command in the menu when it appears. The title bar will change to a red colour to indicate it has been locked.
SearchOne of the more useful is the Search and Replace functions in Scrivener, especially when you have a great many documents in your project. Quick Search is available in the toolbar. Also, Project Search is available at the top of the Binder.
Scrivener will return all the documents which contain the search term. In text documents, the search term will be highlighted. Scrivener also provides options, Right-Click in Project Search Box, to expand or restrict how it searches. In most cases, the defaults work very well.
Under the edit menu, there are several useful tools which I use such as Edit>Transformations such as changing cases from upper to lower to convert Straight Quotes to Smart Quotes.
The Edit>Text Tidying is useful for removing double spaces and cleaning up some of my text.
The Edit>Writing Tools> Name Generator is useful for creating character names.
I recently discovered Linguistic Focuswhich is found under the Edit>Writing Tools menu. The feature allows you to select various parts of your text such as Speech by fading the surrounding text to highlight it. I haven’t used it extensively as yet, but it looks interesting. I’m planning to play with to see whether it will prove useful.
In the Inspector, you will find several metadata fields. I usually create a synopsis in the Notes panel by copying and pasting text into the Synopsis field. For multiple documents, I use the Set Synopsis from main text command under Documents>Auto-Fill menu. This grabs the first paragraph of the document and displays it in the Synopsis Field. I find this useful when I’m in Outline mode or in Corkboard as it gives me a general idea of the scene.
You aren’t restricted to text. You can also drop an image in the Synopsis field.
I use Bookmarks frequently as I consult various documents. It saves me time when several months later, I’m trying to find the source of the fact that I had used. You can bookmark web pages, Scrivener files, or files you have stored on your hard drive.
There are some standard metadata fields such as Due Date, Title, Metadata etc. I rarely used the standard ones except when I’m created a Web page. I would then complete the Title, and Description fields as these are key metadata for Web pages and search optimization.
Scrivener allows you to create your own metadata fields. For most of my projects, I have deleted the defaults and created two new metadata fields: Speech Check and Grammar Check. They are simple checkboxes which I tick which finished editing the scene.
Tracking your progress
Scrivener provides a wealth of statistics on managing your projects. The Project>Statistics menu gives you basic stats on the number of words, characters, sentences, and page counts in your project.
Project Targets, Session Targets, Document Targets
Scrivener allows you to set target word counts for your project, daily (Sessions), and at the document level.
The Project>Show Project Targets menu allows you to set the total number of words for your project. Clicking between ‘of’ and ‘words’ will activate a text box where you can input your project’s word count.
Clicking on Options allows you, in the Draft Target window, to set a deadline date for your project. In Session Target, clicking Automatically calculate from draft deadline checkbox Scrivener will calculate your total workdays and the daily word count you will need to write to meet the deadline you have set.
Once you set your Project Targets Quick Search the Toolbar will show thin colour bars to indicate your progress.
The top blue line is your project total word count, while the bottom green line indicates your daily Session Target progress. When you mouse over Quick Search, your current word count will be displayed.
I rarely use the document target since my scene count varies, but it is available in the document footer by clicking on the Target icon.
Depending on your workflow, you can use Scrivener to created Word docs, Pdf, ePub as well as other formats. I usually convert my document into Word which I then send to my editor for copyediting and proofreading. There it will remain until final editing is completed, then sent to my print book designer and ePub creator.
If you need help?
Under the Help menu, there are plenty of resources in case you need additional help. There is an extensive manual, 900 pages long, a Scrivener interactive tutorial, user forums, and video tutorials.
Frank Rockland is the pen name of an Ottawa based writer. In 2013 he published his first novel, Fire on the Hill, a suspense novel about fire that destroyed the Parliament Hill Centre Block on the night of Feb 3, 1916.
He recently completed the third volume, Sharpening the Blade (1916), in his Canadian Expeditionary Force series, to be released late in 2019. Forging the Weapon (1914) and Hammering the Blade (1915) were released 2015 and 2017. He is currently working on the fourth volume Hardening the Blade (1917). Visit his website www.sambiasebooks.ca and at twitter @FrankRockland
Word Crafting is a blog to help writers strive for excellence. If you would like to be a guest blogger, pitch me an idea.