Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adding Humore To Your Writing--POV

One of the keys to unleashing your humor is the point of view chosen for your story or characters. When Charles Schultz looked at the world through the eyes of Charlie Brown, or Lucy Van Pelt, we laughed. It was the same world we were looking at every day, but through the eyes of insecure, Charlie Brown, and extroverted, Lucy, we got a glimpse as to how funny our world could be. Point of view allows you to comment on things that might not seem funny at first glance. It’s all in the angle of attack.

Charles Schultz did it with kids, but you can do it with any of your characters. A few years ago I was starting a novel about a girl whose father was a corporate whistle blower. The family went into the witness protection program, relocating from New York City to a small community in Denver. My protagonist was faced with the unhappy situation of leaving her friends and everything familiar behind. A situation like this can be traumatic for any fifteen year-old. But I wanted to take the trauma out of it, and show how resourceful my protagonist could be. So I infused in her the attitude that starting over was good:

If I have to go where nobody knows me, then why not start over as a fourteen year old? she thought. I’ve already made all the fourteen year old mistakes. And I will know all the work in school, since I just completed ninth grade. This, she realized, would give her more time for her fabulous social life.

By changing my protagonist’s point of view, I have given her the chance to be funny. There’s no humor in the story yet, but with this POV it will be easier to write humorous situations. I bet you can think of two or three funny situations you could see her in as you read this.

If you give your stories or characters a slightly off-center POV, they will more easily lend themselves to humor. Do not shoot down the middle when you want to add humor. How will you know if you’ve got the right POV? If you’re smiling as you think about it, you’re on the right track.

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