GUEST POST: 5 Tips for Writing a Humorous Novel with Karina Fabian

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MEDWith all this talk of horror and mayhem lately, I thought it might be nice to feature an author who not only knows her way around a horror novel, but can also make us DIE laughing.  Get it… DIE laughing?  Ahem… anyway, here today at The Belle, author Karina Fabian is going to be educating us on the art of comedy as featured in her new audiobook release, I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  So without further ado…


I’ve always enjoyed being silly. I fell in love while trading puns with a new friend who is now my husband of nearly 25 years. At work, I’ve been known to put our skeleton in funny places, like the bathroom stall for “private time.” When I was asked to write a zombie story, I got into a silly mood, and the story, “Wokking Dead,” ended up being more an apocalypse of puns than undead. However Neeta Lyffe (say it out loud) was a character of such character that my publisher asked me to writer her in a novel. Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator won awards, and now I’ve written the second, I Left My Brains in San Francisco, which comes out in audiobook this month.

Not everyone can write funny stories, nor does everyone want to. But if you’d like to try to make someone graffaw in a library or snort soda out their nose while reading in a cafe, here are some tips:

  1. Make Yourself Laugh. I mean it. If you don’t enjoy your own jokes, why bother writing them? You should laugh when you read your own work. If it’s not funny to you, how can it be funny to anyone else?
  2. Keep your pacing. Just like a comedian needs to pace his punchline, you need to pace the humor of your story. Be sure you set up the joke but don’t overstate it. Get the punch line in and give the reader a chance to laugh. Hit them with a surprise.
  3. A novel is not a series of jokes. It’s a story. Just like no novel is all dialogue or all long descriptions of the scene, a humorous novel is not all slapstick and comedy. In fact, properly placed seriousness can make the jokes all the better. My funniest novels have serious things happen in them. Sometimes, they are quiet moments to let the characters (and the reader) catch their breaths. Sometimes, they are the tragic consequences of what was a humorous scene. Other times, they are touching moments or intense action. You might say it’s a yin-yang kind of thing, but it adds depth and complexity, which makes a better novel all around.
  4. Don’t force the humor. Sometimes, all the machinations in the world will not let a joke go through in a novel, even when it seemed so funny in your head. Cut it the way you would a bad description or laborious dialogue. Also, be careful that your humor, especially political/social/religious humor, doesn’t cross the line to insult (unless that’s what you’re going for, but then be prepared for it to not be so funny after all.)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to get all your jokes. I’ve had critiquers who did not understand my humor. I’ve had editors try to fix the manuscript by changing punch lines (or punch scenes) to funny pieces they did not get. Even “Neeta Lyffe,” which I thought was a pretty obvious pun, has to be explained sometimes. (And pronounced. It’s like Need-a-Life, not Need a Lift.) Having said that, if too many of your beta readers don’t get the joke, then you should rethink it.

Laughter has been shown to reduce tension, exercise the cardiovascular system, and encourage a more positive outlook. Writing funny stories promotes good health! (Or so I tell myself when I skip the gym to write.) The great thing is, you get to share the benefits with others. So go write funny! And if your funny bone needs a workout, consider I Left My Brains in San Francisco. It’s even in audio, so you can listen to it while you run!


About I Left My Brains in San Francisco

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

 Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Excerpt:

Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday.

Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee. Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting. Was it only last Christmas?

He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind.  “You want to live!  We want to live!  That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”

Yeah.  Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.

He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.

God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back.  Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside.  He needed to delete Marley’s old code from it.

He cleared his throat.  “Listen up!  You want to live!  We want to live!”

The exit door clicked.

“That’s impossible!” he declared.  The store fell silent.

“Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.

“That’s not what I meant!  Security team to customer service!”

He reached under the counter for a shotgun.  Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw.  They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.

The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.

Clint to blasted him with the shotgun.  The impact knocked the Marley out the door.

Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot.  “He brought friends!  Call Nine-One-One.  I’m putting this place on shutdown.”

“Screw that!  I’ve been prepping all my life for this!”  With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door.  She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.

Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.

He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1.  It’d be too late by the time they got there.  All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.

God bless survivors.

Find I Left My Brains in San Francisco (also available in audio) HERE:

Damnation Books: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727643

Amazon: http://amzn.to/Nzm01L (paper) http://amzn.to/OBBmkL (Kindle)

More about it at http://zombiedeathextreme.com


About Karina Fabian:

Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky karinachainsaw2tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for TopTenReviews.com and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Website: http://fabianspace.com, http://zombiedeathextreme.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karina.fabian

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/KarinaFabian

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10981939-karina-fabian

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One thought on “GUEST POST: 5 Tips for Writing a Humorous Novel with Karina Fabian

  1. Thanks for hosting me today!

    Sadly, the book’s still not up on Audible. We’re not sure what the holdup is, but we’d like to offer everyone something in the meantime, lest you all go after our brains! We have the first 3 chapters of I Left My Brains in San Francisco for you in audio. If you go to http://karinafabian.com/freezombiefiction/ and sign up, I’ll invite you to the shared drive and let you know when to book is live. PLUS, I’ll put you in for a drawing for a free audio copy of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

    Becky & I can’t control Audible, but we can control what we do about it. Let us show you this is worth waiting for. http://karinafabian.com/freezombiefiction/

    Like

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