Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Have a Good Laugh ... at Your Writing's Expense

The feedback has been coming in, slowly but steadily, on Part 1 of my WIP. As always, my BEs (old and new) continually impress me with their thoughtful analysis and creative thinking. From their comments, I believe I have made a significant amount of progress since the first draft, but of course, there is still a lot for me to work on.

I've noticed a strange bi-product arise out of the feedback process - humor. Not so much humor in my writing ... wait, let me rephrase that ... not so much intentional humor in my writing, but little quirks in my style that give rise to guffaws. Some of you might be horrified at the thought of a reader laughing out loud at a passage which you, as a writer, take very seriously. But I've got to tell you, I've come to believe it's good for the soul, and the writing, to be able to take a step back and just laugh at your work.

My mother and I were in stitches the other day over my overuse of some words. We had to stop our critique session just to laugh and parody it a bit more. This called to mind an assignment in Junior Year Honors English (many, many years ago) where the teacher asked us to write a short, satirical piece based on one of the books we'd read in class that year. I chose The Scarlett Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. I wrote a page of narrative in which every other line elaborated upon the protagonist's "ignominiously burning bosom." (I still remember that after all these years!) I recall getting an "A" for my cheekiness, and I never once worried whether Mr. Hawthorne was turning over in his grave about it. I imagine he would have found my parody amusing.

FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO: We as writers should let ourselves go a little when we receive feedback on our work. Don't be afraid to embrace the humor in your writing process - have a good laugh at your own expense from time to time. I promise it won't leave you feeling low about yourself or your capabilities ... quite the opposite ... sure you'll need to fix those shortcomings at some point, but a bit of levity may help you realize you're dealing with hills, not mountains.


  1. I love when people laugh at things I've written whether it's intentional or not. Most of the time it's not.

  2. Laughter is the best! I would take that as a compliment for sure. Sounds like your handling the situation perfectly :o)

  3. Thanks a bunch ... I have to admit, some of my passages would be an SNL writer's dream come true ... ;-)-