Humorous Fiction Question

by Michele


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.

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