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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Make 'Em Laugh!

Don't you know everyone wants to laugh? Ha-ha!

When I take a look back at the last few books that have really made me cry*, I've realized that what really makes the punch hurt is that these are the same books that have made me laugh. Good dramatic writing is a balance of light and dark, sometimes heavy and sometimes airy -- it isn't all one low tone of melancholy and tears.

Not to be cliche with the whole "you need the dark to know the light" -- because I don't agree with that. Funny things can be funny without being juxtaposed against tragedy. But the opposite isn't as true. In order for something to be exceptionally impactful and painful, you need to have a little levity.

And that's my advice today: lighten up.

At the risk of being a little too up on the pop culture, and seemingly more into Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort than I actually am -- I'd point to John Greene's The Fault in our Stars or Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy as examples of humor in a dramatic context done right. Even as Hazel counts away the days she has left, or as Tris mourns her friends who've died, the novels never forget to have funny moments. They never forget that, when we're with our friends, even when we're sad, we're not just mopey and intolerable. We joke, we tease, we kid around -- and, to the point, we laugh.

That's the takeaway to practice today. Go look through what you've written. Are there any funny moments? If not, why not, and where can you fit them in? I get it. It can be hard. It's not first nature to me to remember to be funny when I'm being dramatic. But still, I think that are a few pratfalls in my MC's future.

*And honestly, it doesn't take a lot to make me cry.

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