First Draft Blues | Blame Janet Evanovitch

(Originally published July 19, 2007).

Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist or maybe it’s because I have proclaimed that I am writing a humorous novel (eeek), but I am having trouble cranking out FUR BALL FEVER. Trouble is, I want my critique partners to find my book, even the first draft, hilarious.

I would like to take this opportunity to blame my writer’s block on Janet Evanovitch.

Here’s the thing.

I just finished reading Janet Evanovitch’s TWELVE SHARP, finally released in paperback. There is one particularly hilarious scene in it — a laugh out loud scene — where Lula (a fat black woman and heroine’s sidekick), Sally (cross-dresser, rock singer, occasional drag queen), and Grandma Mazur (heroine’s elderly grandmother) are rehearsing for a 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?

Janet’s description of Lula is even more hilarious, but I don’t want to spoil the moment.

One of my goals is to meet Janet Evanovitch. I want to shake her hand and congratulate her and tell her I love her Stephanie Plum novels. And then I want to ask her ask her, “Is your first draft is even remotely humorous, or do you tear your hair out?”

In other words, is what I’m experiencing normal? (Yes, it’s all about me.)

See, I’m beginning to doubt that humor bubbles out, fresh, original, and comical, upon writing the first draft. Or possibly even the second. I suspect, and I could be wrong here, that humor is carefully crafted and layered in later, along with other factors such as time and setting, clothing, the five senses, emotion, etc. etc.

Now that I have (hopefully) convinced myself that my initial lack of humor is normal, I will stop trying so hard to be entertaining in my first pathetic draft. I will simply try to write my story and stop playing to a phantom editor. Everything else, including humor, will follow.