Author Topic: Laughing at your writing  (Read 2614 times)

Offline 2par

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Laughing at your writing
« on: September 07, 2013, 04:07:31 AM »
Well, I've been putting off revising Chap. 4 of Inheritance, because I'd already started Chap. 5 and didn't know what to do with it. Yeah, that's my reasoning. But tonight I finally did the little bit of revision and went into 5 and wasn't enjoying it until I got to a certain part and then I realized I was laughing.

I think I read somewhere you should laugh at your own writing; but in theatre, if you start laughing at your own performance, you can bet you're gonna fall on your face.   I also read somewhere that a writer must never fall so in love with his own words that it might prevent him from making revisions or cuts. So, what's the verdict?

So, anyway, I'm through with 5 and am anxious to start on 6. After awhile, I'll go back and look at 5 again and see if I still enjoy it.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 04:12:37 AM by 2par »

JewelAS53

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2013, 06:17:16 AM »
I reckon you should be laughing at your funny sections, and crying with your tear jerkers. If you, as a writer, do not get emotionally involved with what you're writing, how can you expect involvement from a reader? Your piece then becomes little more than a literary exercise. If that's what you're looking for, well and good, but to a normal reader, the work would be dry. Your reader would probably not finish because reading it would be a bit like a guitarist playing the rhythm of a rock 'n' roll piece without so much as a tap of a toe (and I've seen that, 'n all!)

Offline Annmarie

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2013, 07:03:30 AM »
In a general sense, we should laugh at our writing sometimes so we don't take it too seriously. It's not brain surgery. Nobody dies if we get it wrong.
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Offline Don

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2013, 07:29:03 AM »
If it's comedy you're writing, yes, you should be laughing. If spelling, grammar or sentence construction are the cause of the hilarity, who cares--it's a first draft. The larger question is: why are you revising if all the chapters aren't written?

Get the first draft done. Revision at this point is procrastination in disguise and I tell you that from experience.
I have a motto: when in doubt, go for the cheap laugh.

Offline Dean

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2013, 07:35:48 AM »
I've never written comedy, but I rarely laugh out loud at anything, and doubt I would at my own...

I do find some of my old purple prose hilarious though  ;D.

Offline Chord

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2013, 07:45:18 AM »
What Don said. Revision is the first-draft killer.

But - to your original point. Gyppo made a really good point in another thread (I can't remember which) talking about a writing persona, putting yourself in another head-space for writing. In the same way you need to do this for certain parts of your editing.

I agree with what the others have said about enjoying your own writing. There is a point though, usually in the second draft for me, where I examine each scene in detail, going over it with a copywriter's eye. And to do that I have my (ahem-excuse me)  arsey-tosspot-pedantic-bastard-critic-twat persona. He is above such mundane things as pleasure and solely exists to make my life difficult.

To do this, I imagine the script/novel/shopping list I'm editing is from someone I truly despise. I want to show them how superior I am to them in every respect. I want to humiliate them, preferably with big red pen marks all over their lovely manuscripts. I want to pull every line apart, highlight every weakness, and possibly sleep with their wife just for the hell of it.

I know this sounds like self-punishment, but I'd rather have one bastard doing that to my work than the legion of them that will jump on it when it is published/sold/taken to the shops.

Or perhaps I'm just plain weird. It works for me though and saves a fortune on copy-editors.
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Offline Don

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2013, 08:24:25 AM »
Quote
I want to pull every line apart, highlight every weakness, and possibly sleep with their wife just for the hell of it.

The beauty of this method is that you can sleep with the bastard's wife and get away with it.  ;D

I never considered adopting another persona when editing but the concept is sound. If going into bad guy-mode allows me to write a better antagonist, then there's no reason a hard-nosed editor-mode wouldn't allow me to make better revisions. Thanks, Chord. We'll try it.  :)
I have a motto: when in doubt, go for the cheap laugh.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2013, 09:09:13 AM »
I think I read somewhere you should laugh at your own writing; but in theatre, if you start laughing at your own performance, you can bet you're gonna fall on your face.

But on stage you're in a fairly fixed persona, running a predestined track. You can't laugh in the middle of a serious scene, even if alternative words or actions are kicking around in the back of your brain.  Different actors may play King Lear very differently from each other,  but each will remain consistent to his own interpretation.  But I dare some of them, off stage and in private with friends, can knock off a hilarious parody of their own performance to relive the tensions of the role.

Shakespeare lends itself to parody, much to the disgust of more serious fans.

Reading back your own work is a different game entirely, and if a death scene has you rolling on the floor hysterically laughing then it probably needs to be rewritten.

But as someone else said, if reading your own work takes you on appropriate emotional roller coaster ride then you're doing something right.

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Offline protekme

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2013, 10:03:51 AM »
Yooppy!!! And I thought I was being overly sensitive. It's only after my second revision, when I started to relax and detach as a writer, that my feelings came to the surface. Now, my concentration is so intense when I read it, every time I get to those special parts, I cry or laugh over and over again. That's weird. . . I thought it might be because my book is based on a true story.

Thanks, 2par, for bringing this up. I guess we are never alone: if it happens to us, it happens to others.
 
P.S. As Gyppo said, all depends where you laugh.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 10:06:34 AM by protekme »
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Offline 2par

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2013, 11:11:20 AM »
My goodness, what wonderful comments!
Don, you're right...to a certain extent, it is procrastination. But, I just can't go on when I'm breathing that last bit and know it can be better. I have to self edit. And when it's all done, I'll edit and revise again. Hemingway said to write the best sentence you can and then you go on to the next one.

Jewel and Annmarie, I so appreciate your input. Putting myself in the reader's place does help. I'm glad I'm not that big a dork.

Dean, and Don - well, I'm not exactly writing comedy, but some parts are going to naturally be lighter than others and what happened was I put the MC into an unfamiliar setting to her and she was non-plussed to say the least. And I had her stand up and be brave to the consternation of others. So, this serious lady handled her unfamiliar and, bizarre to her, surrounding in a totally unexpected way.

Chord, yes, I remember reading what Gyppo said about personnas and I have to laugh at your 'self-punishment', But I totally intend to remember to take it on when the time comes.

Gyppo, I promise not to laugh at serious scenes. But I didn't feel the emotion when I wrote a sad scene, so I'm going to have to look at that one again.  (Btw - have you ever read or seen the play, "The Complete Works of William Shakespear, Abridged, Revised" ?  It's hysterical.)

And, um, Chord and Don, and anyone else who's interested - I promise I will never want to sleep with anyone's wife!

Thanks all.

Jo Bannister

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2013, 10:18:30 AM »
For what it's worth, I love a leavening of comedy through even a serious piece of work.  A turn of phrase, an unexpectedly human comment or action from one of the characters, or the writer having a sly joke with his readers.  It seems to me to add depth to a piece - because life really is a bit of a roller-coaster: high drama one day, low comedy the next - as well as being enjoyable for its own sake.  I do it myself, and I've had some very positive comments from critics about it.   

Offline 2par

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2013, 10:27:10 AM »
Thanks, Jo. If Shakespeare can do it, I guess we'd better follow suit.

Wolfe

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2013, 03:50:58 PM »
Let me tell you what's even better: reading those lines and having an audience burst into laughter.

It's like ambrosia and is exactly the reason comedians do what they do. Yes, I laugh at my own material sometimes, a clever turn of the phrase, but always test it to see if it has the desired result with your audience too.

Always keep in mind, what may be funny to some, may be offensive to others. So, test the material with a receptive audience. If the results are overall a plus, then go for it. Hearing crickets? Rewrite.

Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to laugh at your own writing. Hell, if you don't, what makes you think anyone else will?

I, The Great and All-Knowing, Wolfe, have spoken.  ;D

Offline protekme

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2013, 05:45:01 PM »
Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to laugh at your own writing. Hell, if you don't, what makes you think anyone else will?

I, The Great and All-Knowing, Wolfe, have spoken.  ;D

Answer: Perhaps someone who has a different sense of humour than I do. (which means) . . . Not everyone finds humour or insult at the same place.

I wrote something once, not making anything out of it, but a beta reader pictured the scene and laughed her head off. How do you think I reacted? Heck, I made sure everyone else would see it her way, and I worked on the scene a little more, trying to make it funny for everyone else.
 ;D ;D ;D
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Offline 2par

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Re: Laughing at your writing
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 08:18:12 PM »
It's so nice having these little discussions. It really really really helps.