Monday, August 29, 2011

HUMOR IN MYSTERY

Kaye George, fellow Sister in Crime and Guppy, is today's guest. She's the author of the very funny Choke, a mystery from Mainly Murder Press, and "The Truck Contest," a short story in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology.

I love to make people laugh. I always have. When I was young, I didn't always know what to do in a social situation. But I knew one good thing to fall back on—make them laugh.

In fact (and this is crazy) I think I'd like to do standup comedy. This is crazy because I'm terrified in front of audiences. I saw an interview with Garrison Keillor where he said he didn't notice the audience, even when they seated some of them on the stage. He said he's so nearsighted, they look like a field of pinkish Renoir flowers. Is he lucky! I'm every bit that nearsighted, but don't dare go without my glasses.

One thing I've studied over the years is comedic timing, on television and on the stage. I know this doesn't have that much to do with the written page, but I think it helps if you understand that when you're writing comedy. None of my in-depth critiques have ever faulted the humor in CHOKE, and that makes me very happy!

The easiest kind of humor is mean. (Well, the very easiest is filthy potty-mouthed.) That's a kind I try to stay away from. There's a simple secret to keeping the humor away from ridicule and mocking. That's to love your characters. I do dearly love all my characters. I know some are odd balls (and at least one is a murderer), but there is something to like about each one. I give the reader reasons for their odd behaviors, which makes them more understandable. That is, after all, just part of knowing the characters—knowing why they act the way they do.

I'll let you in on a secret. For years and years I never wrote humor. I though that would be a cop-out because it's so easy. When I finally got it drilled into me that it's not easy for everyone, I let myself do it. I never had so much fun writing a book before. And you may notice it's the ONE that's published.
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No wonder Kaye George writes such interesting characters—she's been a janitor in a tractor factory, a mental health center secretary, a bookkeeper and a short order cook. She's been a mainframe computer programmer and a nurse's aide along the way.
 Kaye is also a violinist, an online mystery reviewer, an award-winning short story writer, and the author of several unpublished (so far) mystery series besides the one being published by Mainly Murder Press. Find out more at her website, http://www.kayegeorge.com/. In her blog, Travels with Kaye, she documents her writing journey, but she also includes actual travels.

11 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

I love Kaye's humor. When I read Choke, I laughed the whole way through. Her play on words, the reactions of characters, ridiculous situations, etc. It reminded me in a way of Joan Hess's Maggody series. Here's hoping for a series!

Peg Brantley said...

I love humor, even in mysteries. Maybe especially in mysteries. It's so unexpected and somehow . . . pure.

I'll have to put CHOKE on my list.

Thanks Ellis, for hosting Kaye!

Ellis Vidler said...

Somehow laughing always leaves you feeling better. I enjoy humor in many books. An unexpected chuckle even in a dark mystery can be nice. I love the good-natured humor in Choke, and I too hope it turns into a series!

MaxWriter said...

I'm way overdue in ordering Choke. I find it very hard to write funny and admire anyone who does. Thanks, Kaye!

Edith

bj said...

Now I so want to read Choke. I agree with mean humor not being a good idea. It may make you quickly laugh but it is also shameful. There are a number of very popular entertainers whose whole schtick is mean. What does that say about their fans?

Polly said...

Kaye, you're right. Humor is hard to write for most people. I've tried to do it situationally (is that a word?) rather than verbally, but I'm not sure I've succeeded. I think you're fortunate that you can do it, because people would rather have a book make them laugh than to be disturbed by one. Choke is waiting on my Kindle, and I look forward to reading it.

Kaye George said...

Thanks for stopping by and for wanting to read the book! Laugh and the world laughs with you, right? I'm so thrilled to see old friends and new here. Thanks, Ellis!

Nancy Lauzon said...

I'll have to check out your book, Kaye, I love stories that make me laugh. Best of luck in all your writing endeavours!

Nancy
http://chickdickmysteries.com

Kaye George said...

Thanks so much, Nancy. It's great making new connections!

Donnell said...

Oh, Kaye, I'm sorry I'm late. (sorry Ellis). I loved Choke for the very reason she mentioned. You can feel the love in this book. It's downright funny and the characters in spite of their conflict, love one another. It's priceless writing.

Kaye George said...

Better late than never when you say nice things about the writer, Donnell. Thanks!