Central Oregon Writers Guild’s resident humorist Jo Ann Senior brought it home at our May meeting when she spoke on the topic, “How to Incorporate Humor in Your Writing No Matter the Genre.” She began by reading her latest humorous article, “Better Dying Through Chemistry”, giving us her own hilarious spin on the dangers, sometimes fatal, lurking in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. A serious subject indeed, but Jo Ann had us rolling in the aisles, thanks to her wit, her way with words, and most of all her ability to see the funny side of almost any issue.
Jo Ann distributed a handout called Word Play by author and comedian Tim Bete, who listed six tips to find the funniest words: Listen to How Words Sound; Pick a Word that Breaks a Pattern; Be Specific; Put the Funniest Word at the End of a Sentence; Find Words with Multiple Meanings; Use a Thesaurus. She then expanded on these tips in her presentation. She pointed out language holds the key to humor, and she proved that by definition and example. By using such techniques as exaggeration, surprise, double entendres and plays on words, Jo Ann said the writer will keep readers engaged and often provide much-needed comic relief, especially when stories are serious, scary or even sappy. She advised the writer to be specific rather than generic, and said while the Thesaurus is a great resource to avoid clichés, it’s important not to overdo it. Sending the reader to the nearest dictionary after encountering an unfamiliar word can have a chilling effect on the story line. She stressed the importance of the rhythm of your words, and often short or fragmented sentences will add punch to your writing. A well-placed zinger will catch the reader’s attention, but be sure to keep your characters in character. She also advised that we read aloud what we have written, and make revisions based on how our words come across to the reader.
To quote Jo Ann, “Humor connects people. Laughter is the shortest distance between people.” She demonstrated that during her presentation, and at the end of a lively Q&A with participants, she did what all great humorists do: Always leave the audience laughing!
The meeting concluded with Elsie Rochna’s 2008 Literary Harvest contest award-winning “Split Decision”, a wonderful story combining a serious subject with humorous touches that brought some smiles. Many thanks, Jo Ann and Elsie for making our meeting such a special one!
Thursday, July 22—Romance author Christine Young will speak on the topic, “Breaking Barriers: How to polish your manuscript to a beautiful shine.” Also featured: Literary Harvest winner Celia Leber presenting her story, “One Afternoon”.
Thursday, August 26—Members Readers Showcase. Several guild members will read their original works. Come enjoy an evening of stories, fun and of course refreshments.
Thursday, September 23—Award winning author and guild member Paty Jager. Her latest book, Doctor in Petticoats has just been published!
Friday, October 15—Sixth Annual Literary Harvest
Thursday, October 28—Larry Crompton, author of the real-life suspense novel Sudden Terror.
Thursday, November 18—Ellen Waterston, author and founder The Nature of Words.
Thursday, December 16—Holiday Showcase