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Humor Writing - How to Change DOH! To Dough
by Phil Truman
If you have your sights set writing humor, you
should get used to questions like this - "Do you ever do any serious
There are two implications to this question, and
those like it. One is the obvious humor writing is frivolous, and therefore
not important writing. The second says, if youre a humor writer, youre somehow
second class to the rest of the literati. We class clowns have always been
tolerated for our entertainment value, but our efforts couldnt be put on the
same plateau with those who write in serious genres like mystery or romance or
suspense or westerns or
gasp (Im not worthy, Im not worthy)
Now lets dont kid ourselves. We dont and
wont get paid a lot for our humor writing, but well have a better chance of
taking it to the bank than we will writing a story about a big white whale named
Ishmael and a crazy sea captain named Dick Moby played by Gregory Peck. In fact,
humor by itself usually has the following pay scale: Minimum: Nothing; Maximum:
Next to Nothing. Far be it for me to recommend that you try to become a humor
writer in order to make a living. I recommend writing magazine or e-zine
articles if you want to make money as a writer. Just remember, not all articles
need to be dead serious. Inject your humor skills into them and youll have a
better chance of selling them.
I dont like journalism majors. Back in my
college days I was bitten by a journalism major, and Ive never gotten over it.
However, Ill have to admit they have a point. Yes, its true most of them are
uncombed and have horns, but when it comes to writing for money they are more
better at it than us English majors.
Journalism majors adhere to two very sound
writer rules one, dont write for free, and two, dont be so uppity if an
editor wants to change what youve written, especially if they still want to pay
you for it. I hate to admit that makes them smarter than me (journalism majors,
not editors), but it does on that score.
The purpose here isnt to tell you how to write
magazine articles. But I do want to emphasize that magazine article writing is
far more lucrative than just writing your basic humor. Theres no law, however,
that says you cant include one with the other.
But back to the question about serious writing
versus humor writing. Writing humor is very hard and very serious, and if you
dont believe that, youre a dope-smoking journalism monkey. The ability to
write so that your readers find it funny is not an easy thing to accomplish. It
takes practice and keen instincts toward knowing how to use techniques that can
generate amusement ranging from a wry smile to falling down, knee-slapping,
hiccup-generating, snort-inducing, flatulence-forcing laughter.
Dont kid yourself, writing of any kind is hard
work. However, writing humor isnt something anybody can do. There is a certain
talent to it, true, but like that obscure actor who played Robert Redfords dad
in The Natural said to the young Roy Hobbs, "You really should see
somebody about that wart on your face."
No, wait, that was Redfords agent. The line in
the movie was, "You have a gift, Roy, but thats not enough." And just like in
baseball, when it comes to hitting and fielding and spitting and scratching in
humor writing, talent isnt enough. You have to build the skills; you have to
develop the craft.
Now I would be the first to admit that Im no
Roy Hobbs when it comes to hitting homeruns at the ballpark of humor; Im no
Sundance Kid when it comes to robbing the banks of laughter; Im no
characters name was in The Sting when it comes to
I forgot what my
Oh yeah, I may not be the definitive source for humor writing
knowledge, but I do know some things, I have learned some things, that I dont
mind passing along, and thats all Im trying to do here. Its like my
psychiatrist says, "Every little bit helps."
So if you dont have a sense of humor, get one.
Theres humor all around you if you just look for it. Youre already a writer,
now all you have to do is twist your article around until you can make your
readers (and editors) laugh at what you laugh at. When you can do that, it will
© Copyright 2003, Phil Truman
Phil Truman's website is philtrumanink.com.
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