Were any of you the victim of an April Fool’s Day joke or prank this year on April 1st? I was kind of disappointed that no one tried to fool me. And I figured that maybe we are living in a time where we don’t know if something is true or false because of the suspect material we consume on the internet, so maybe the April Fool’s Day prank has been abandoned this year because we feel like we’re getting pranked every day as it is!
But that’s too bad. It’s important to take time out at least once a year (Doctor Laurie prescribes once a day!) to laugh, enjoy a joke, commit a prank on your friends or loved ones, and just relax.
A sense of humor is important in your writing too, whether you have a humorous secondary character in your books, the main protagonist has a wicked sense of humor, or the book itself is filled with jokes, barbs, witty come-backs, and the like.
In his nonfiction book, The Left Brain Speaks, the Right Brain Laughs: A Look at the Neuroscience of Innovation & Creativity in Art, Science & Life, longtime SFWC speaker Ransom Stephens, PhD, uses humor to lighten up his rather academic subject and make it not only accessible, but enjoyable reading. Or as he says, “uses irreverence, wisecracks, and a physicist’s eye for scientific accuracy to convey what makes us all tick and how we can tick better.”
In a recent interview by Phil Simon in Huffington Post, Stephens had this to say about emotions and storytelling: “Stories excite within us the very circuits through which we interact with the world. Like any other experience, that interaction alters our models and changes our worldview. As you envision a setting, your visual processing centers activate in a way that is strikingly similar to how they would activate if you were actually there. In other words, when a novelist does a good job portraying a character in a rose garden, you catch a hint of the scent; an act of fictitious injustice makes you feel outrage; a good sex scene perks you right up.”
So don’t be afraid to add some humor to your novel…or even your nonfiction book. Or as Joss Whedon said, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke!”
A good blog post on the importance of humor in novels can be found here at Writers Digest: https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-reasons-writers-serious-novels-use-humor-fiction
I’ll leave you with a joke I found on the internet at MarginalRevolution.com, but has been making the rounds on the internet for years:
Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, Monsieur, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”
I hope that makes up for it if no one fooled you Monday.