Humorous Fiction Question

by Michele
(Cumming, Ga.)


I am in the very beginning phases of writing. I have no real writing experience or really even know what I am doing for that matter. It has been a life long dream of mine to write a book and have it published. Anyways, I have been tossing around an idea for a humorous type fiction and I wanted to know what type of system I can use to lay out or outline the story. I have done a little bit of reading about the "W" storyboard concept and am trying to find out if this is a good way to lay out a humorous fiction or if there is another way to outline it. I really like the idea of outlining the story and the storyboards but didn't really know if there was a better/different way to lay out a humorous (and somewhat cynical)book and if the whole idea of low points and high points fits into this type of genre.

Thank you,

Answer: Much depends on your style. With some humour books, the humour stems from the narrative style and voice or from a deliberate breaking of narrative structure and convention. It may rely almost entirely on a funny main character or narrator. This type of humour is similar to certain forms of literary fiction. The plot may be rather thin - more like a tale than a story.

On the other hand, you can have a humourous novel with a fully developed story structure. If you've read this site, you'll know I prefer Dramatica's approach to story structure. See this article for more info...

The "W" plot essentially takes the four signposts of the overall throughline plus the 3rd signpost of either the Relationship throughline or the Main Character throughline to make a total of five - while ignoring all the rest. Dramatica's approach, in my opinion, is more complete, though perhaps comes with a steeper learning curve.

At any rate, something to consider is that humourous stories will usually make the overall throughline humourous, while at least one of the others is serious, in order to create emotional depth.

For instance, the overall throughline can be in one of four domains...

Fixed Attitude

If it's in situation, the humour will derive from awkward or embarrassing situations the characters find themselves in.

If it's in action, the humour may involve slapstick, funny actions, or physical comedy.

If it's in fixed attitudes, the humour derives from things like obsessions, attitudes, phobias, vanity, etc.

If it's in manipulation, the humour derives from things like lies, inventions, tricks, impersonations, mistaken identity, confusion, etc.

You can develop a plot outline just as well with a humourous book as any other. Just remember that the signposts are turning points - events where things get tense and are then resolved in unexpected and often funny ways.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Genre Invite.

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero