Cabbages and Kings

A diary by the authors of the Louis Kincaid series

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Location: Fort Lauderdale/Elk Rapids, Florida and Michigan, United States

We are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Louis Kincaid series and other stand alone thrillers. We have taught writing at major conferences for ten years.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Funny writing

Okay, I give up. I can't do it. Even after two glasses of wine. I can't write funny. Those of you who can do it, I can hear you out there going: BWAAAAA-HAAAAAH! Because you know how hard it is. Sometimes you don't get as much respect because you write humor or light. Critics have a pie-chart they use to decide what to pay attention to and it divides up roughly like this:

Hardboiled depressing stuff 25%
Over-easy ethnically diverse PIs 20%
Cute guy writers from UK 15%
Cozies 15%
Small press neo-noir with cleavage on cover 10%
Chick lit crime 10%
Humorous crime 5%

Now consider that Carl Hiaason alone takes up about 8% of humor and you can see that those who write funny stuff get the crumbs. That's cause any idiot can tell a joke. But very few can tell one for 250 pages.

I have this idea for a mystery. It doesn't fit my hardboiled series. The woman who is talking to me in my head is so friggin funny! Why can't I get it down on paper? I am not an unfunny person. I can even tell a joke (well, only one and it's so filthy few have heard it). So why can't I write funny?! You funny types out there....tell me the secret. No joke.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the opposite problem. Writing funny comes naturally to me but it's hard work trying to write serious, brooding type stuff. Every time I try, it sounds like some kind of bad Guy Noir parody. Maybe we should trade brains for a while.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Bob Morris said...

Well, I don't know that I'm the "funny type," but the jacket cover of my next book (written by my editor) describes it as "often laugh-out-loud funny." And my titles are anything but dark. I prefer wry over funny, but that's slicing the bread thin. And I prefer smart-ass over everything, but that's just me.

However, having read your pie chart of how us "funny types" get the crumbs, I am seriously tyring to figure out how I can reinvent myself as a noir guy.
I am thinking dark thoughts and no longer taking my meds ...

Not really. Dark just ain't in my genes.

Besides, I think there's a giant disconnect between what the mystery/thriller community values as a commodity and what readers want. What I hear over and over again when I'm on the road is: "I loved your book because it was a fast read and it was funny and it didn't bog me down with a lot of psychological crap." (That's a composite quote, of course.)

The trick is in trying to write something that has suspense and humor and that doesn't come off as, god forbid, wacky. Wacky is something else altogether, but it is easy to lose your way and drift into wackiness. And then you are lost...

9:38 AM  

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