Monday, October 17, 2011

Writing Humor with Greg Fishbone, author of the Galaxy Games series

Today my special guest is Greg Fishbone, who is launching his latest book, Galaxy Games: The Challengers, with a month-long blog tour.

CE: You write middle grade humor. Were you a funny kid?

GF: I wasn't the class clown or anything but I did enjoy making people laugh, especially my sister and my parents. At one point, I had a phonebook-sized book of jokes that I pretty much memorized, even though most of them were pretty horrible. What followed was a long process of figuring out how the jokes worked and how I could make them better. I think I was a humor scientist, more than anything else. Slap a joke onto a dissection tray, slice it open, and try not to blow up the lab.

CE: What's the value of funny books? Do you try to use humor to convey more serious information or messages, or is the humor valuable enough on its own?

GF: When I have something important for the reader to think about, it will tend to happen outside the humor or as a counterpoint to the humor. For a middle grade readership, the best thing is to use humor as the envelope that a message comes in--but only after the reader has opened a bunch of other humor envelopes with nothing inside but more humor. If there's a heavy message in every envelope, the reader will stop opening them.  

CE: Does the humor just come naturally to you, or do you have techniques for finding the funny?

GF: Humor is a lot like dancing. It's a lot of hard work to do it right but it has to seem easy and natural. After a lot of practice, I can write funny stories fairly well, but I'm still working on the macarena.

Sometimes you can actually make a story funnier by taking jokes out of it or by delaying them for a bigger payoff. It's about figuring out the rhythms and beats that work best with your own style, but it feels good when it really clicks.

CE: Do you have any other advice for writers who might want to add more humor to their work?

  • Develop an ear for humor;
  • Don't try too hard to be funny;
  • Don't try to mimic another person's humor style when you can develop your own;
  • Don't force humor on your readers; and
  • Don't be afraid to sprinkle humor into a story that's not strictly a humor story. 
CE: Thank you, Greg! Readers, if you'd like to know more about Galaxy Games, you can read sample chapters online or check out the book trailer. If you're gathering puzzle pieces, today's is below.

The Galaxy Games series is written by Greg R. Fishbone and published by the Tu Books imprint of Lee & Low Books. In this hilarious middle-grade romp through space, eleven-year-old Tyler Sato leads a team of kids representing all of Earth in a sports tournament against alien kids from across the galaxy.

1 comment: