First Draft Blues (The Difficulties of Writing Humor)

Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist or maybe it’s because I have proclaimed that I’m writing another humorous romance, but it is taking me forever to crank out COLD FEET FEVER. Trouble is, I want my critique partners to find my manuscript, even the first draft, entertaining, even amusing, if not hilarious.

I would like to take this opportunity to blame my troubles on Janet Evanovitch.

Here’s the thing. I just finished reading Evanovitch’s TWELVE SHARP. There is one particularly hilarious scene in it—a laugh out loud scene—where Lula (a fat black woman and the heroine’s sidekick), Sally (a cross-dresser, rock singer, occasional drag queen), and Grandma Mazur (heroine’s elderly grandmother) are rehearsing for a musical gig in a seniors’ home. Here’s an excerpt:

“Grandma and Lula were wearing black leather hot pants and ice-cream-cone bras. Grandma looked like a soup chicken dressed up like Madonna. She was all slack skin and wobbly knees and slightly bowed legs. Her blond wig was slightly askew, and her ice-cream-cone bra hung low, not from the weight of her breasts but from breast location. Gravity hadn’t been kind to Grandma.”

Don’t you just love it? Can’t you see Grandma Mazur?

I want to shake the author’s hand, congratulate her, and tell her I love those Stephanie Plum novels. And then I want to inquire, “Is your first draft is even remotely humorous?” In other words, is what I’m experiencing normal? (Yes, it’s all about me.)

In my experience, humor seldom, if ever, bubbles out, fresh and original, upon writing the first draft. Or possibly even the second. Any humor I achieve is carefully crafted and layered in later, along with other factors such as setting, clothing, the five senses, emotion, etc. etc.

Now that I’ve convinced myself that my initial flat scenes are the normal state of affairs for me, I will stop trying so hard to be entertaining in my pathetic first draft, aka ‘the vomit version’. I will simply try to write my story, stop playing to a phantom reader, and trust in my ability to add the humor on another round of edits.

Here is a short excerpt from my previous book, FUR BALL FEVER, where Grace and Nick have gone undercover at a fetish club in search of the bad guys, only to find that Grace’s sidekick, her aging hippie aunt. has beaten them to the punch:

Grace clung to Nick’s arm and let him lead the way. They pushed close enough for a good view of the platform. His hand, large and warm, snaked around her waist.

She leaned into him to watch a plump woman in a mini-dress strut her stuff onstage. The woman wore a Cher wig, black Goth lipstick, and a Mardi Gras mask sprouting a plume of ostrich feathers. Black latex strained under the pressure of abundant curves.

Grace’s frontal lobe started to seize up like an engine without oil. All the hairs on the back of her neck stood at attention. The getup didn’t look quite the same on Auntie Beth as it had in the window of Superdyke Fashions.

A muffled snort made Grace turn and glare at Nick.

His mouth twitched. “Apparently, your aunt has a thing for rubber and feathers.”

She studied the wide band of feathers fluttering around the hem at crotch level. “This is so not funny,” she said, biting back the urge to snicker.

“Rubber is remarkably stretchy.” His voice quivered.

She stared at the big kahunas of Auntie Beth’s boobs as they battled the zipper in their bid for freedom. Her butt and rounded belly strained the skirt to a wafer-thin shell. She resembled a giant sausage about to burst its casing.

“I’d hate to be near when that zipper blows,” Nick remarked.

“Oh, God,” Grace moaned, hiding her face against his shoulder. “Kill me now.”

To find out what happens, buy FUR BALL FEVER at one of the following:

Amazon (US):
Amazon (Canada):
Amazon (UK):

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