Missy, here. I'm excited to have my long-time good friend and critique partner Lindi Peterson with us today. Welcome Lindi! Y'all are going to enjoy hearing from her. If you've read her first book, Her Best Catch, you'll know how great Lindi is with humor!
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you her new novel from Bell Bridge Books just released the other day!! When I read the draft of this story, I called her and told her that I just knew her editor Deb Smith would buy the book in about 30 seconds flat. Well, I was close. I think she bought it in 24 hours. :) :) So be sure to check out this fantastic story, Summer's Song!
By Lindi Peterson
I can’t help it. I like to laugh. I like to smile.
There’s a station on the Sirius channel my husband listens to all the time. There’s a lot of talking on it, and there’s a show where there is a gal and a guy and they chat back and forth. The gal has a really LOUD laugh and this past weekend while we were listening she bursts out with this laugh. My first thought was ‘how annoying is that?’
But then it came to me that no laughter should be annoying simply because of what it is. Laughter is the outpouring of giddiness inside. If anything it should be contagious. So my spirit was put into check immediately. It’s kind of like our singing voice. God gave us that voice and He likes it when we sing loud in church, even though the person standing next to us gives us that cross-eyed look that is meant to silence us. (No, I never get that look. :))
Some people are just naturally funny. I read Kristin Billerbeck’s blog because she makes me laugh. She’s true to life, doesn’t mince words, and can put a smile on my face in almost every post she writes. So I visit her blog often.
Moving from blog posts to novels. Seekerville has amazing authors. Authors who know how to write humor, so I was a little hesitant about writing this post. But just like there are only 16 plots or something like that, and we all keep writing novels, there’s more than one way to approach humor. And there are several types of humor.
I’m going with the subtle type. You know, the type that’s interjected under the radar, so to speak. Of course, I must preface this by revealing some information to you. I’ve often sent my manuscripts to critique partners and they place those smiley faces and LOL comments where I, as the author, didn’t think I was being funny. There are places where I’m thinking I’m going to elicit one of those cherished smiley faces and there is nothing. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes what we think is funny, others don’t. So take those smiley faces where you can get them, and hmmm, smile.
Here is an excerpt from my new release, Summer’s Song. There is an obvious humor line and a subtle humor line.
Set up: Heroine, recovering pop-princess Summer’s manager, Coleman, has scheduled an interview with a talk-show. Summer didn’t want to do it, but didn’t want to be difficult. Also, the hero, Levi, told her she had a chance to tell the world how she’s changed. At this stage the interview isn’t going like the talk show host thought it would. She’s mad and is confronting Summer about it.
“Somebody get Coleman on the phone,” she yells. “He misled me.” (talk-show host)
“I’m sorry.” (Heroine, Summer)
“The last thing I need is bad girl meets God on my show. Paul! We’re done here. Call my driver and wrap this disaster up.”
She uncrosses her arms, probably getting ready to bolt.
“I just don’t want to be cardboard.”
“What?” she asks.
“I don’t want to be cardboard,” I say a little louder now. “I want to be fudge.”
“Honey, take another pill.”
With those parting words she glares at me, turns away then leaves.
A loud clap sounds. Then another. I turn to find Levi standing five feet away from me. How could I have not seen him and how long has he been here?
He claps one more time. “That’s my girl.”
“I’m in so much trouble.”
“You can’t worry about it.”
“This was my big chance. And I blew it. She didn’t believe me. Why couldn’t I convince her?”
He walks to me. “You look beautiful.”
“I even wore my church dress. Honestly. Why couldn’t I convince her?”
“She didn’t want to be convinced. She wanted dirt and you wouldn’t give it to her.”
“She’s leaving. Coleman is going to be furious.”
Levi places his hands on my shoulders. “Forget about Coleman. Forget about Meghan Cascade. How do you feel?”
I stare into his eyes, reflective of what I want to be. Who I want to be.
Smiling from deep down in my soul, I put my hands on his waist. “I feel great. I feel free. I feel like. . . .” and before I can finish my sentence his lips cover mine.
My heart totally slams my chest.
I close my eyes and watch bright lights explode. His lips are softer than I imagined, fiery with passion, sweet like honey.
In his kiss.
He surrounds me with his arms, ends the kiss, then buries his head in my hair, his lips close to my ear. “Sweet, so sweet,” he whispers.
And I thought I was in trouble a few minutes ago.
So for me, the obvious humor line is: “Honey, take another pill.”
The subtle humor line is: “I even wore my church dress.”
(Note: The church dress line will make more sense when you read the book. Also, the fudge/cardboard line will be explained—promise!)
The line, “I even wore my church dress.”, is spoken in total seriousness by my heroine. The hero, Levi, and the reader all know that you can’t really change who you are by what you wear. And my heroine’s motivation isn’t to imply that, yet that’s what it implies. Also, look at the line above it.
He walks to me. “You look beautiful.”
My heroine doesn’t respond to that line at all. And trust me, looking beautiful is something she knows she does well. It’s a huge part of who she was, and her lack of response shows how she has changed.
And I didn’t sit around thinking and planning all this as I was writing the dialogue. It just happened. My first draft of any story consists of A LOT of dialogue. I have to go back and fill in all the other crazy important details, like setting and emotion. When I’m revising I look for the places that the timing of the dialogue won’t be interrupted as I insert the other details.
Dialogue may not be the thing you do naturally. It may be setting or emotion or something else. If you hone down what comes naturally, then you can build the other important aspects into your story.
As with other aspects of writing, humor is all about timing, cadence, and the beat.
The how-to book, Self Editing For Fiction Writers, is always on my desk. It has a chapter titled, Easy Beats. It goes into great detail how important beats are in your novel to create tension and give the reader breathing space. I spend a lot of time on my chapter endings thinking about not just the perfect line to keep the reader turning the pages, but also making sure the timing, the beat, is there.
I thought I was in trouble a few minutes ago.
I wanted the reader to smile and maybe laugh when they read the last line of that scene.
Leave them (the reader) happy!
What do you feel like you do naturally when you write? Or if you are a reader, do you like books with humor?
Thanks to Seekerville for having me as a guest blogger. These ladies and their readers are amazing and I love visiting anytime!
So, here’s the deal. We’re giving away 2 copies of Summer’s Song and 2 gift/review copies of my first novel, Her Best Catch. If you’ve smiled or laughed while reading this post, indicate in the comments section and you’ll be entered in the drawing for one of the copies.
Visit Lindi at:
Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org