Yesterday, I was supposed to leave work early (this being time off in lieu of evening classes), but there was a training session on the wonderful new online database that will track students and and merge seamlessly into the official MIS database for enrolment. So I didn't get home until 6.30pm and was too tired to write. So today I left as soon as the morning class finished and I'd had a small snack to sustain me on the way home. Finding I had a bit of energy left, I put loaf makings into the breadmaker and went upstairs to type up the handwritten stuff produced this week. This resulted in...
Words typed today: 610
Total for Chapter 8 (now complete): 4,939
Total for novel so far: 40,356
We were talking on Monday about various aspects of writing and I mentioned that I was writing a comedy. Eric said that there are basically two kinds of jokes: someone having something bad happen to them, or something unexpected happening. I said I don't do jokes, which is true. There isn't one joke in the book so far. Neither are there any one-liners. Is my book funny? I hope so, but until it's finished, I won't really be able to tell.
So what am I trying to do with it? What is my kind of comedy? I wouldn't say I find writing comedy easy, (I don't find any writing easy) but it is something I can do. Which means that I tend to think everyone can do it, but (from the conversation on Monday) this isn't the case. Which did encourage me a bit as that means the novel might be more appealing to a publisher than it would otherwise be.
For me, comedy arises out of situation. It is partly about the unexpected, but that also applies to good plotting in any book, so that doesn't necessarily produce comedy. It can't just be that my characters fail and bad things happen to them, because that also applies to many other types of novel. And anyway, sometimes my characters succeed -- even if only briefly. But there's something I do, some deep part of my brain that I access when writing, that makes it come out funny. Absurdity is perhaps one aspect, also it's dry comedy, not the laugh a minute sort. And my comedy can be quite dark. I think it comes from growing up in the North of England, where people around me seemed to do this kind of dry humour automatically. It also has something in it of the gallows humour of people doing hard and unpleasant jobs. In fact the book I want to write next, when I've finished the magic mountain book, starts with the female protag killing a serial killer in self-defence. This is intended to be a funny book, because, for me, comedy has to have its serious side or it becomes merely silly or frothy. The funniest comedy for me isn't afraid to venture into dark places and some otherwise funny books have failed for me because, ironically, they don't take things seriously enough.
As I haven't done one for a bit, here's a snippet of today's output
"So, Goorgy," Edmund said. "What news from the town?"
The big shaggy dog crept closer and, gazing up at Edmund, uttered a series of barks and whines.
"Did you get all that, Gladdis?" the warrior king asked, turning to the hag as Goorgy at last fell silent.
Gladdis raised her bushy grey eyebrows at Edmund, then folded her arms and began tapping one stoutly booted foot on the night-damp grass. "Not as such," she admitted at last. "He appears to be very excited though."
Edmund gave an exasperated sigh that sounded like a cold winter wind blowing over a graveyard. "I thought you could commune with animals?"
"Cats," Gladdis said, testily. "I understand cats completely. My dog is a bit rusty."