Monday, September 9, 2013

I can't write comedy, and some how, that's funny.

I have never considered myself a comedy writer, but that isn't to say that I don't write comedy. Rather, I never set out to write comedy, and in so doing the comedy tends to write itself.
If any of that makes sense, I hope what follows will as well.
I am a writer of characters.
Usually, I have a rough outline of a plot, hardly a skeleton to build upon. I start with a simple idea, usually a question.  I see something, or read about something, and ask "What if?" Lots of times it has to do with looking at something from a different angle.
A lot, or a few, notes go down next. But that all just sits in a pile and does nothing if there aren't any characters to march through it and kick up the dirt. Otherwise, it's just a garbage heap of useless words.
Just writing that paragraph gave me a simple idea. A Garbage Heap. What follows is finding the story, and the first question I ask is "What is it like working on a garbage heap?" You know, those people who take our trash to the dump, and those that sort through it. Some for recycling, and those who scrounge around the dump looking for things they can sell in order to survive. (I know old door nobs can bring a penny or two.) But the job isn't interesting enough. So what if I changed the question: "What is life like for those who live on the garbage heap?"  I think there is some drama in that, and maybe some comedy too.
(Almost forgot my blog's topic there didn't I?)
We'll have to wait and see if I actually discover a story in garbage heap and expand upon it.  I see a lot of drama, even depression, about the people living in lean-to huts atop or even inside the garbage mounds.
But is there comedy among that garbage and depression?  If you find the right characters there are.
What if our story is about a teenage girl working along side her parents looking for scrap and selling what they can. She has a boyfriend, but when he shows up to take her on a date (what kind of date can there be on a scrap heap), she complains that he was cuter before he took a shower.
Okay, that might not be the funniest thing in the world. Like I said, I don't write comedy.  However, if I wrote this story completely out, I think our little Dust Bunny (yes, I just named the girl Dust Bunny. The boy's name is Smudge,  no, Kruntch ) would have a whole lot of funny things to say as she is clearly the only person on the garbage island that enjoys being there.

The point, if there is one, is that comedy like everything else in a story comes out of character. Creating a funny situation and dropping your characters into it doesn't necessarily make it comedy.
Learn about your characters; find out what makes them tick, and what ticks them off. Don't tickle them; annoy their pants off. They'll tell you what's funny when they start throwing mud back at you.
Maybe I will write this story sometime. Maybe set it on a garbage planet (this story is getting gout of hand).  (Kruntch is out; the boy's name is Smudge again. The letter K didn't test well.)
Then we'll discover if I can write comedy or not, and see if I am really worthy of being:
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
Four Names of Professional Creativity  (certainly not of comedy).

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