Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Funny business

by John

Saw this piece by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, on the Wall Street Journal website (). I have to confess, Dilbert has never really done much for me, but the story Adams tells here is pretty amusing, and the tips that follow are extremely useful. I hope writers heed his advice, because while humor is central to young people’s literature—think Dr. Seuss, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Olivia, Lemony Snickett, DIARY Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc., etc.—I’ve always been surprised at how few kids’ book submissions even attempt to be funny, much less actually succeed at it.

So here’s a thought for all you writers struggling with your dark, paranormal romance—maybe it’s time to leave the vampires in the ground, take a tip or two from Dilbert, and give your funny bone a workout?


  1. This article reminded me of being in the 5th grade and walking home with my sister and a friend and the friend explaining "the act." My sister, friend, and I laughed very hard because we couldn't believe that anyone would ever consider doing "that."

    The suggestion Scott Adams makes about better word choices is perfect and the focus of my next pass at revision. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. As a former cubicle jockey, I must confess that I used to like Dilbert. Thanks for the link - that was a good article by Scott Adams.

    Admittedly, not quite a French fry, but I did once make Coca Cola squirt out of my brother’s nose at a wedding reception. Try it, the sight of someone turned into a cola fountain in public is truly something to behold. But, just not on my brother, okay? He still looks queasy when I mention it, even today.

    And hey, why leave the vampires alone? You might have stumbled across the next hot publishing trend - Vampire Comedies. You heard it here first.

  3. You make a good point. Think about it: the economy sucks, there's a lot of depressing news pouring out of the media's every nook and cranny, and very few people are genuinely happy. So what do we give them? Dark stories about the paranormal and the living dead. Yeah, that's really gonna lighten the mood. /sarcasm

    Nothing says "supercharge my endorphins" like laughter. Is it any wonder that web sites, TV shows and movies that mock real life tend to be outrageously popular?

  4. Good article. My debut novel Dead Frog on the Porch and the soon to be released second in the series Dead Bird through the Cat Door are both funny. I agree with Scott Adams that funny is in the reaction of the characters to the situation.

  5. I must confess, I do not read Dilbert, but I do when ever I get the chance. The comic is wonderfully done and anyone working in any type of office can relate.

    It is very true that the best children's books are funny in nature. The hard part is writing it and keeping the story in tact. Great advice. I'm book marking the page!

  6. May the force be with the "funnies."


  7. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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