Writing with Humour

 And the Punchline Is…

By: Loni Cameron

November’s member-led workshop was Writing with Humour, presented by author Willie Handler. The workshop was filled with writers eager to inject a little humour into their work, not just those who want to write a humorous novel. Willie started the evening focusing on what humour is and why it is difficult to write. We had a straight-forward, easy to understand definition of humour: humour is expressing yourself in a way that amuses other people.

But, why is it difficult to amuse other people in writing?

Writing humour is more complex than just being funny. There are no facial expressions or gestures when writing a story. Also, not everyone agrees on what is funny.

Willie gave us some great advice on how to use humour. Though humour is a genre in itself, authors are always writing about something else, whether Political Satire or Romantic Comedy; you have to know just as much about the other genre to make the humour truly effective.

The biggest takeaway of the evening was also the simplest: humour should surprise the reader. Willie explained the importance of using conflict to set up humour, where you can lead up to something, or pull your reader in with a twist.

Willie encouraged total involvement in this workshop. Participants wrote two different pieces focusing on a different form of humour each time, and were encouraged to share. Some of the rough work was laugh-out-loud funny, some of it dark, but all of it packed with self-challenge and a reminder to get other people reading/listening to our work. It was a full, enjoyable and informative workshop. I think everyone who attended not only learned something, but they also had fun.

MJ Moores has generously given us permission to include a sample of the second piece she produced at the workshop. Please note: the piece is completely unedited and written in about ten minutes.

Type: Sophomoric Humour

Prompt: Find something in everyday life to build a scene around and push yourself out of your comfort zone

Personal Choice: Vending Machine Warning Label


Just a reminder that we are open to workshop proposals for next year. If you submitted a proposal last year and it was not accepted, you are encouraged to submit again, as the community’s tastes and needs change.

January’s seminar will be held on Sunday, January 14th: Poetry Workshop with Janette Platana.

NOTE: Poetic forms and the manipulation of word choice isn’t just for “poets” – all writers and genres are welcome.

January’s member-only workshop will be on Thursday, January 25th: Revise Like a Pro with Kim McDougall.

Written by

When Loni isn't reading other people's words or running around after her two young children, she spends time writing stories of her own. She finds inspiration in the little things, but also in momentous events. Loni currently resides in York Region. Twitter: @LoniStorm Instagram: loni_storm Facebook: @LoniCameronWriter

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