Who doesn’t love the pleasure of literary laughter? We’re talking about essays, memoirs, articles, short stories, and novels that are humorous. It can be anything from a true story about the special hell of raising kids to a far-fetched tale of a would-be knight tilting at windmills. As Mark Twain says, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”
Humorous prose writing requires all the hallmarks of good writing plus that X factor: being funny. Here you will learn about the various types of prose humor, as well as comedic techniques and how to market your work.
Whether you seek to write fiction or nonfiction, short or long, we’ll show you how to turn sentences into smiles.
This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of humor writing craft and gets you writing a short piece (or two) or a book.
- Writing exercises
- Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)
Humor Writing is for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals.Course Syllabus:Introduction to Humor Writing:
The secret formula to all humor . Exploration of various forms of prose humor writing—fiction, nonfiction, and in-between. Where to find humorous ideas. The elusiveness of humor.Principles of Humor:
Exploration of the various techniques for achieving humor—exaggeration, juxtaposition, shock/surprise, extreme situations, sound/rhythm/wordplay, irony, attitude, absurdity. The various types of humor.People:
Finding the stupidity in people. Round and flat characters. Showing vs. Telling. Methods for showing characters. Ridiculing groups of people.Structure:
The basic structural techniques for humor—the rule of three, snowballing. Finding a major dramatic question. Shaping a beginning, middle, and end. Breaking the structural norms.Point of View/Voice:
Point of view defined. Exploration of the various types of point of view. Voice defined. Exploration of the various types of voice. Tips for finding your voice.Description:
Using the senses. Specificity. Techniques for creativity. Finding the right words. Merging description with point of view. Describing funny situations. Bad (but funny) descriptions.Dialogue:
The importance of scene. Dialogue's illusion of reality. Quotation marks and tags. Stage directions. Summarized dialogue. Characterization through dialogue. Miscommunication. Not forcing it.Point and Pointlessness:
Using humor to make a point. Using humor in pointless (but funny) ways.Precision:
Hacking through the early stages. Zeroing in on the perfect words and achieving economy. Strengthening the humor techniques. Finding the peaks and valleys. Testing out the humor.The Business:
Proper format for manuscripts. How to target publishing houses, magazines, newspapers, and agents. How to send your work out. Query letters.Note: Content may vary among individual classes.