Friday, October 3, 2014

Humour (US humor) n. the quality of being amusing… [OED]

I didn’t let the fun stop with the old lady. Not me, the other one. The one I mentioned in last week’s blog post.

For better or worse, I tried to interject humor into my novel. I attempted some jokes, made some puns, and retold an unusual story.

For instance, I had fun with one particular name by using it—a lot.

Again, it started early on when I got bogged down with creating Swedish names for my characters. I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes—name wise, but trying to invent clever new ones was taking up too much time. It was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I had to get my daily quota of 1667 words. So, instead of going with the unusual or the rare, I went with the maximum common. I swear that at one time I was told there were three main families at some point in the early days of Bishop Hill. In a stroke that combined inspiration and desperation, I turned them all into Anderson’s. If you check out a Quad City telephone book, an antiquated paper one, you’ll find page after page of Andersons. I opted for safety in numbers and maybe a little tribute to The Matrix. So far I’ve kept most of those Andersons alive and well.

Then I decided to continue the fun for one Anderson in particular. I was inspired by someone who, at one time, made a creative change to his name. I used that idea to turn a character’s middle name into a running gag. I just took the letter “J” and came up with as many substitutions as I could. Of the many possibilities, here are just a few: jerk, jinx, jealous, jovial, jolly, jester, juvenile, justice, and journey. I made three or four jokes before I had to give the poor guy a break, apologize, and promise to stop.

At another point in the book, I have a scene with vigilantes hiding in the shadows. Something similar to that really happened, not like I have written it, but in the ball park, so to speak. I heard about it well after it happened, so by that time it seemed humorous to me. I’d like to think that using it in the book lets me remember a couple of guys who went out of their way to help us all out.

These are the main points where I tried to add a humorous twist to the story and some color through conflict for a few characters. They do say that humor is subjective: What is funny for one person is not funny at all for another. I imagine some of my attempts at humor will come across better than others—or maybe not at all.

All I can say is, “I had to try.”

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