Make ‘em Laugh

When I was at Wiscon last May, I attended a panel on High Fantasy (or epic fantasy, or quest fantasy, or whatever you want to call it) where the panelists ended up spending a good portion of their time on humor.  Not enough of it in High Fantasy, they decided, and I couldn’t agree more.

I’m not just talking wit, here.  I’m talking buffoons and drunks and lackeys falling down stairs.  Anything to lighten the tone.  To provide a contrast for The Great Deeds Yet To Come.

I try to put a bit of humor into all my books, especially at the beginning.  What do other folks do?  Who are the best writers out there today when it comes to adding a little lightheartedness to the quest to Save The World?

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  1. 1. Karen Wester Newton

    Believe it or not, it always seemed to me that broad, slapstick humor was harder to do in written form than subtle, witty repartee. I think that’s because it can be difficult to get the reader to see exactly what you want him/her to see.

    Now, in a play or movie, broad humor is practically a gimme– witness the way people laugh at “funny” videos of people doing serious injury to themselves on TV.

  2. 2. Diana Pharaoh Francis

    I go with rude snark. It amuses me anyhow. If I could write His Girl Friday as a fantasy, I would.

    Di

  3. 3. S.C. Butler

    Karen – You’re right. It takes a lot of description to get broad humor right on the page. But sometimes, if you get the characters right…

    Diana – If you write His Girl Friday as a fantasy, I will certainly read it.

  4. 4. Kate Elliott

    Di, oh, you must write it. Please.

  5. 5. Marie Brennan

    I’m often not a fan of Humor as such — the kind of thing that passes for comedy in America these days. But I loves me some wit.

    As far as including either kind in High Fantasy goes, I don’t remember if this is something Joss Whedon actually said or just demonstrated in Buffy and his other projects, but real people simply aren’t serious all the time. Even when things are awful, people make jokes, people make humorous mistakes. Trying to play everything at a serious pitch is a mistake; without the contrast, that just gets wearing.

  6. 6. S.C. Butler

    Marie – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head (unless you missed and hit your thumb).

  7. 7. Simon Haynes

    Yes, you could say I put humour in my books…

  8. 8. cyn

    i feel that humor is very difficult to write.
    i am, in person, a pretty funny femme.
    but my first novel didn’t come out like that.
    i did add a sidekick and he has some great
    lines, so i think he added to the light
    heartedness of a rather serious tale.

    it sort of surprises me how your outwardly
    personality may not match what you are
    prone to write. my good friend still expects
    me to write a comedic screenplay for her
    to direct, she thinks i’m *that* funny.

    but my humor is using others
    and myself to make
    the situation funny. making a situation funny
    with words is a different story. literally.

  9. 9. s.c. butler

    cyn – it is interesting the way some people are really funny in person but don’t put their homor into their books. Often it’s because they don’t want to.

  10. 10. cyn

    s.c. — i’m def willing to try, when it’s appropriate.
    i worried my novel was over serious.
    consider this line from my sidekick :

    “and the next thing i knew, there was a monster
    between my legs!”

    a snake demoness at that!

    okay, maybe only i find that funny. haha! =X

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

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