So, you wanna write funny tales with zany characters floundering through implausible circumstances to make people laugh… Well, dear reader, you’ve come to the right place. I know a thing or two about writing funny and I’ve cared to share in a carefully curated and honed seminar titled, “I Write Funny – and so can You!”.

Book me now via my contact page on my author site:

The tips and techniques imparted in that seminar, delivered in person and on Zoom, provide a meaty rubric for ‘how to’ and I hope that you have benefitted. The focus of today’s blog is a list of mistakes when those new to the humor genre attempt to write funny characters. Let’s begin the list so that your funny stories don’t miss their mark:

  1. One cannot merely write funny lines to make a funny character. First the writer must invent a funny character. Prototype characters are the Slob (Pig Pen), the Rube/Perpetual Loser (Charlie Brown), the Royal (the never-seen adults), the Know-It-All (Lucy), and the Absent-minded Professor (Shroeder). As you might surmise, the actions of the character speak louder than his/her words.
  2. The writer tries too hard to think of funny things for a character to do – in a single situation that has no through line. Merely ascribing zany, crazy actions without being anchored to a known prototype… a reader or audience needs subtext to process the actions rather than have them float in/out.
  3. The character is cliched, to close to the stereotypic prototype, without the nuances that real people display. For example, James Bond was a Lothario + Man of Action + Know-It-All.
  4. The dialogue doesn’t sparkle. If a character is properly drawn to provide an ironic contrast with the plot, setting, or other characters, the dialogue should practically write itself. See #1 – the dialogue is a consequence of good characterization and is not written first.
  5. Just as in any story, if the crazy character wants nothing, then the comedy falls flat. The comic character must be assertive, not passive or inert.
  6. The comic character isn’t extreme enough.Life as a Miracle
  7. There’s too much character description. As with any kind of fiction the tenet is to “show, not tell.”
  8. The writer doesn’t compel the audience/reader to care about the character.
  9. The writer doesn’t understand the difference between comedic and dramatic characters – really?! This is basic, Bunky.

I hope these tips helped you to write right!