Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Humor & Inspiration: The Magic of Humor

Tamara Copley:
Writer, Educator, Blogger
Welcome to the last stretch of the Humor & Inspiration Features! We've had laughter, wisdom, plenty of inspiration, and a fair amount of snark. (You're welcome, my darlings.)

I'm pleased to introduce today's guest, Tamara Copley. Not only is Tamara an accomplished writer, educator, and blogger, but she has been my friend since the Dawn of Time. (I remember an illustrated version of Superhero Cats in Funkalicious Space Suits she created in the early 90's.) Tamara possesses a rare blend of highbrow humor (think puns, lots of puns), amazing writing talent, and a sweet nature. Basically, there's no one better to tackle the topic of bringing the funny to your manuscript.
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A good story requires great characterization with clear motivation, and a meaningful plot. A stellar story requires all that plus humor. I compared good books I’ve loved over the years to the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. These series have a sparkle many others lack because of humor.
Ting! Pearly whites aren't enough though...
Unfunny vs Funny
Let’s look at the Star Wars series. Movies 1-3 flop in part because all humor is focused in Jar Jar Binks, a buffoonish character who frustrates because he is a cheap shot for the kids and because he’s not funny to many adults. Meanwhile, dialogue and banter are often absent throughout the rest of the trilogy. Therefore, the only humor distracts from rather than enhances the storyline. Lacking their comedy relief, the other two movies don’t try to be funny. The lack of humor makes them fall flat and feel untrue to the original trilogy.  As with many movies, we watch them once and walk away.  
Somebody order a moody broody hero?
Entertainment should be fun. It should not feel like work to read a novel or watch a movie. 

What works in the Star Wars series? Movies 4-7 work because of humor. The Ewoks and the comedy duo straight man and chubby funny man, C3PO and R2D2, provide comic relief, but others provide humor as well. Even the simple, ubiquitous line, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” becomes humorous when handled right. Han Solo and Leia are both serious throughout the series, but they exchange banter and zingers on a regular basis that carry the movies with their humor and charm. Audiences still chuckle over, “You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” and Han’s winning response, “Who’s scruffy-looking?” These lines are funny because they’re a combination of familiar and unexpected. 
Beep bo beeeeeeep! (So adorable, right?)
Dialogue with humor provides magic for the original trilogy, and Force Awakens recaptures that, both with BB8, the quirky droid, and others.  [Spoiler alert]. Audiences see an entire village massacred then we get Poe Dameron’s line, “You speak first or I speak first?” to relieve the tension. One of the funnier scenes is the one in which Rey rescues herself using the force for the first time on a storm trooper played by James Bond’s Daniel Craig. Two serious characters make a funny scene while being serious because what happens there is so unexpected and straight-faced. Humor arises from fresh dialogue between intriguing characters with no “comedy relief” characters required. 

Your Turn
In most writing, humor is critical to the enjoyment of the reader. Humor doesn’t have to be constant or laugh-out-loud, but it should be present. It adds sparkle and fun. 
Boom, baby! Go forth and make it sparkle!
Entertainment is why most writers write and most readers read. Adding humor to a situation can make an otherwise somber story more enjoyable. Humor makes a reader care and helps carry the message into the reader’s mind and heart. 

Everyone’s brand of humor is different. Find yours, and your story will take on more magic and charm. 
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Tamara Copley has been writing since grade school. She has several published works in the academic realm and has garnered awards for short stories, children's books, and poetry. Currently, Tamara teaches English for Brigham Young University Idaho and is preparing her first novel After the Dream for publication. She lives in northern Utah with her husband, children, and too many pets to count.

Connect with Tamara Copley online:
Author Tamara Copley Facebook Page
Author Tamara Copley on Twitter
A Writer's Reflections: Author Blog
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Thanks for sticking with me friends! The finish line is in sight. If you'd like to revisit the other Humor & Inspiration posts, please do so!
Happy reading!

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