WriteWorld Note: These tips are quoted from How to Write Like a Cartoonist by Scott Adams for The Wall Street Journal.
- The topic is the thing. Eighty percent of successful humor writing is picking a topic that is funny by its very nature.
- Humor likes danger. If you are cautious by nature, writing humor probably isn’t for you. Humor works best when you sense that the writer is putting himself in jeopardy.
- Humor is about people. It’s impossible to write humor about a concept or an object. All humor involves how people think and act. Sometimes you can finesse that limitation by having your characters think and act in selfish, stupid or potentially harmful ways around the concept or object that you want your reader to focus on.
- Exaggerate wisely. If you anchor your story in the familiar, your readers will follow you on a humorous exaggeration, especially if you build up to it.
- Let the reader do some work. Humor works best when the reader has to connect some dots… . The smarter your audience, the wider you can spread the dots.
- Animals are funny. It’s a cheap trick, but animal analogies are generally funny. It was funnier that I said, “my cheeks went all chipmunk-like” than if I had said my cheeks puffed out.
- Use funny words… . With humor, you never say “pull” when you can say “yank.” Some words are simply funnier than others, and you know the funny ones when you see them. (Pop Quiz: Which word is funnier, observe or stalk?)
- Curiosity. Good writing makes you curious without being too heavy-handed about it.
- Endings. A simple and classic way to end humorous writing is with a call-back. That means making a clever association to something especially humorous and notable from the body of your work.