|Mary Lane Kamberg at CCMWG|
I can attest to Mary-Lane's writing skills -- and her sense of humor. About ten years ago we both served on the board of the Missouri Writers' Guild. Even when board discussions got heated, Mary-Lane could be relied on for solid advice and an upbeat personality.
During the CCMWG breakout session, she interspersed some of her essays along with her lecture on humor writing.
Her basic two-step process for writing humor is:
1. Think of something funny.
2. Write it down.
Beyond that, she gave examples of how humor can be expressed through: action, dialogue, and description.
She broke down humor writing into three basic parts:
* Topic – Can found in family life, politics, news stories, horrible experiences, phobias, etc.
* Format – Can use diary, how-to, advice Q&A, quiz, pretend interview, list, narrative form personal essay, etc.
* Individual jokes – Her opener was: “A horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks, ‘Why the long face?’”
The format she uses for the narrative form of personal essays is:
Character has a problem (wants to get or keep something)
Three escalating conflicts
She emphasized that personal essays are basically true stories.
Some of her tools/observations in humor writing are:
Repetition - three times is usually enough
Build the joke then pause
Specifics are funnier than generalities
Include an element of a universal truth
It’s okay to be mean. (Note: I don’t necessarily agree with this.)
Words with the letter “K” are funny (Hmm?)
Play with works, such as puns or mixed metaphors
Targets: public figures, politicians, family members, movement, yourself
Butt of jokes gives readers a sense of superiority
Use yourself as a target - she does this a lot in her essays
Comparison, but make it BIG
It’s okay to make fun of famous people, but she warned against libel
Humor pieces tend to be short, between 500-800 words, and they’re getting shorter.
Her wrap-up quotes were: “No laughter in the writer, no laughter in the reader,” and “Get them laughing then get them with the knife.”
Drum roll, please . . . .
The winner is: Marcia
I will get the copy to you soon.