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Monday, March 04, 2013

Finding Light in the Dark by Elisabeth Staab


In his famous TED Talk, comedian Chris Bliss talks about comedy as translation, and the ways comedy can help open people up to communicating on different wavelengths. Through laughter, comedy releases endorphins and lowers walls that many other emotions raise. I’m a big believer in all the ways that laughter can raise the enjoyment factor of story.

Thing is, I love a story full of dark, gritty, badass vampires. I love treachery and betrayal and forbidden enemies becoming lovers, and all that edgy stuff. Murder. Betrayal. A little steamy, erotic tension… You get the idea.

But I think we all need a little light with all that darkness. Call it a tension breaker. A breath of fresh air. Or like Mr. Bliss says, call it another way of opening the reader to what they’re taking in. Because for even those of us who like reading or writing dark, three hundred and fifty pages of gloom and doom is an awful lot to handle. A truly heavy story leaves me wanting to lie on my bed and listen to depressing music while I contemplate the life and times of Sylvia Plath.  For me, part of the fun is the emotional roller coaster.
Humor can be something subtle, like maybe a character delivers a line of snarky dialogue or a cliché that’s been twisted sideways. Or maybe something a little more obvious:

There were times in life when you just had to acknowledge the ridiculousness of a situation. She took form in a dark room, still reeling from the night’s events. Thad’s female and her just-barely former lover were in danger. The man who had said the sweetest words any male had ever spoken to her was apparently her sworn enemy; her body was shot to shit from trying to teleport while she was invisible; and she was catching her breath while leaning up against a rack of… waterproof vibrators?
--Tyra,
King of Darkness
The above snippet by the way, occurs right before a big battle scene against the vampire enemies. Just a little moment for the reader, and one of the secondary characters, to catch their breath before the fight.
Choosing your moment is important. Putting funny in the wrong place can really throw a scene. Knowing your characters is important too. In an early draft of my latest release, Prince of Power, I had my hero telling a pop culture joke about I Love Lucy. The joke was quickly removed when I realized that a hero who’d been sequestered and tortured for a great deal of his existence probably would not have watched much I Love Lucy. Bummer.
I instead used his heroine’s comparative worldliness, along with the awkwardness that arose from the fact that they were supposed to be enemies as a means of creating a dynamic that sometimes took an unexpected left turn:
Their bodies melted together. Anton’s fingers traveled. They tangled in the springy curls at the nape of her neck, and at the same time his tongue probed and tasted. Ah, so that was the source of the apple scent: gum. It felt so right, so natural to be with her like this.
At least it did until Tyra flipped both of them over and kneed him in the balls.
-- Anton, Prince of Power
I love serious angst. I love books that make me grip my seat in anger and fear, and make me cry. But once in awhile if you make me laugh until I cry, that will win it for me every time.

What about you? Do you like funny with your fiction, and if so, what kind?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Prince of Power! 


ABOUT PRINCE OF POWER BY ELISABETH STAAB
Wizards and vampires have been mortal enemies since the beginning. Now Anton, son of the Wizard Master, has one last chance to steal the unique powers of the vampire king's beautiful sister, Tyra...and then kill her. But when he meets Tyra face-to-face, everything changes...

Tyra will stop at nothing to defeat the wizards, until Anton saves her life and she suddenly sees an opportunity she never could have imagined...

As the sparks ignite between them, together they could bring an end to the war that's decimating their people, but only if they can find a way to trust each other...

Elisabeth Staab still lives with her nose in a book and at least one foot in an imaginary world. She believes that all kinds of safe and sane love should be celebrated but she adores the fantasy-filled realm of paranormal romance the best. She loves to spend time with good friends, good music, good beverages, and good books (when she isn't making characters fall in love, that is). She lives with her family and one big scaredy-cat in Northern Virginia. Find out more at ElisabethStaab.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

***Elisabeth's winner is Barbara E!  Please email totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your mailing information. Thanks!***

24 comments:

Mary Kirkland said...

I think as long as it fits with the story and isn't funny for the sake of wanting to put something funny in a certain place, I do like it. I've read a few books where I was laughing so much that my husband was wondering what in the world was wrong with me.

miztik_rose@yahoo.com

Phyllis M said...

Elisabeth, you made me snort out loud with the reference to how you feel when writing gloom and doom and throwing yourself on your bed to convalesce over Sylvia Plath!!! Man, that is depressing! I love humor in my dark PNR...especially the kind you are talking about. It's irreverant, out of place, sometimes very off color; and it makes the story so much more meaningful and real!!! Thanks for this post! Have a great day!

Phyllis M said...

Oh, don't put me in the giveaway!! I already have my copy!! :)

Lil said...

I love funny with my fiction. Have never considered what kind of funny, though. Enjoyed the snippets of the book, they mad me chuckle. little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

Elisabeth Staab said...

I love those books! I once had people looking at me funny on a plane while I was reading Dave Barry. One of my fave comedy writers. Thanks, Mary!

Elisabeth Staab said...

Thanks, Phyllis! I agree. Sometimes even in tense situations, off-color things happen. I've witnessed a lot of "gallows humor."

Pat Cochran said...

I do enjoy funny with my fiction! It adds so
much to my enjoyment of the stories I read.
It also takes away from my husband's sleep,
I can't tell you how many times I've awaken-
ed him as I laugh loudly as he sleeps beside
me!! LOL!

Pat C.

Elisabeth Staab said...

Glad you enjoyed, thanks so much for stopping by to check out King of Darkness and Prince of Power!

Elisabeth Staab said...

LOL! I've done the same to my husband. I figure it's only fair play for listening to his snoring, but he disagrees. ;-) Glad you've found so many chuckle-worthy books to read Pat, and thanks for stopping by!

Linda Henderson said...

I do like humor that fits in with the story. Such as poking fun at yourself or at a situation. Sometimes it's just too heavy to not have any humor in a story.

Carol L. said...

I love comedy i my fiction also especially during a major event. It breaks the tension I think. I love when couples banter back and forth also. Some reads can be very intense and it's then that a little bit of humor smooths the read for me. :) Thanks Elisabeth.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Martha Lawson said...

I love humor in my books!! I would love to be entered to win this one. Thanks for the chance.

Barbara E. said...

Yes, I like funny in my fiction. Even the darkest story can use a little levity to break up the doom and gloom. I like sarcastic, snarky humor, wise cracking heroes and witty, smart aleck heroines.

Elisabeth Staab said...

I love seeing the characters banter too, especially the love interests. Thanks for stopping by, Carol!

Elisabeth Staab said...

Martha, can you please provide an email address in case you're the winner? Thank you! And thank you for stopping by to check out Prince of Power!

Elisabeth Staab said...

High five for snarky banter! Thanks so much for stopping by, Barbara!

Di said...

I do like some funny, it can break some tension and lighten things up even in a dark time. It just has to be appropriate to the characters and the situation - often it has to be a dry humor in a tense time.

lagina reese said...

I so love the LOL funny in books. It makes me fall in love with the characters even more.

Elisabeth Staab said...

I agree, Di! And a little dry humor can go a long way. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Elisabeth Staab said...

Absolutely! I agree completely. Thanks, Iagina!

Kerry Erickson said...

Love comedy in any story! Sarcasm, dry humor, hysterical laughter, all of it! I believe comedy helps the characters get thru the rough parts and makes them more relatable as well.

Mary Preston said...

I do love a touch of humor in the books I read. Even black humor can alleviate.

Eli Yanti said...

I do love humor in book, too serious mean too boring :)

Linda Henderson said...

My email is seriousreader at live dot com