11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre

Humor is present as an element, at least to some degree, in a substantial amount of the media we consume. In this episode we discuss some stylistic tools for applying humor  to our work, and how these tools can best be employed.

WX Trivia: Episode 11.34 represents a pair of firsts for us here at Writing Excuses.

  • It’s the first time we’ve had to resort to having Howard record a fresh intro to replace some missing minutes
  • It’s the first time we’ve had a graphic novel as the Book of the Week.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools and an audio-eating gremlin, then mastered by Alex Jackson and a crossfade brownie.

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Take some of the humor types, and rewrite a scene several times. Over-apply one type of humor with each rewrite, and take note of how the scene changes.

Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12, by Howard Tayler, Travis Walton, Sandra Tayler, and Natalie Barahona, with an introduction by Mary Robinette Kowal

11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between age demographics.

We discuss some good crossover examples, and how some of the boundaries work, and then we cover some of the techniques we use when writing crossover works.

 

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write a story about a book that cannot be read until you are dead.

Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, and also narrated by Mary

Writing the Other masterclasses

Some of the most frequently asked questions that we get on Writing Excuses revolve around how to Write the Other. In order to answer that need, which takes more than 15 minutes, we’ve partnered with Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl (who literally wrote the book Writing the Other) to bring you a series of masterclasses on just this subject.

And not just the general “other” but also a bunch of very specific and detailed classes such as, Writing Native American Characters: How Not To Do A Rowling, Writing Deaf and Blind Characters, and Writing the Other: Comics and Graphic Novels

Plus for Writing Excuses Patreon supporters, there’s a $25 discount on every class.

You’re out of excuses, now go register…

(P.S. from Mary: I’m registered for the Writing for Trans and Non-Binary Narratives. I’ve co-taught with Tempest and Nisi and these workshops are highly, highly recommended.)

11.32: The Element of Humor

“Talking about humor is the least funny thing you can do.” —Howard Tayler

You have been warned! and with that out of the way…

What is the driving force that gets readers to turn pages in a book that is primarily a work of humor? More importantly, how do we as writers get that driver into our books? We cover this, and provide some starting points for writers seeking to improve their humor writing, along with a bunch of neat techniques, and (as apparent from the liner notes) a long example for deconstruction.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

Liner Notes: here are the lyrics we cited from “Love is Strange” (Galavant). We’ve added superscript numbers from the Rule of Three exercise.

¹Love is strange,
And sometimes kind of gross¹
It’s embarrassingly gassy²
And it leaves its dirty underwear
In piles around the place³

²Love is rude, it has a sort of smell¹
And it thinks that you don’t notice²
And it blurts out things
That make you want to smack its stupid face³

³And it’s awkward and confusing¹
It annoys you half to death²
Then it grins that dopey grin
And you can’t catch your breath³

The full song is available here, for $1.29 (link provided out of courtesy to the original artists whose work we deconstructed for educational purposes.)

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Get a funny book, and highlight or underline appearances of the rule of three, and comic drops.

Death by Cliché, by Robert J. Defendi

 

11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips

Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks to be predictive in useful ways.

Liner Notes: Trina mentioned some online resources (and a four-year educational program!) for those interested in working as futurists:

Catch-phrase of the episode: “all we need is a billionaire with a secure facility and a steady supply of monkeys.”

Credits: This episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Pick a city and write what you think it will look like in the year 2045.

The City of the Future, edited by Trina Marie Phillips

11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A

We fielded the following questions about the “Thriller” elemental genre from listeners on Facebook and Twitter:

  • How do I build tension consistently through my story?
  • How do you maintain tension during dialog?
  • When do you not use a cliffhanger?
  • Do you ever picture your scenes as if they were in a movie?
  • How much elemental thriller is too much for a book that isn’t a thriller? What’s the tipping point where you’ve switched genres?
  • What do you do when the tension in your story peaks too early?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Sit down with your manuscript or outline, and in the margins, add notes about the emotions you’re trying to evoke with each scene, and where in the scene it’s supposed to happen. This list of notes is your “beat chart,” and it’s going to teach you neat things about your story.

Javelin Rain, by Myke Cole, narrated by Korey Jackson