Humor Writing I — Syllabus

Introduction to Humor Writing: The secret formula to all humor . Exploration of various forms of prose humor writing—fiction, nonfiction, and in-between. Where to find humorous ideas. The elusiveness of humor.

Principles of Humor: Exploration of the various techniques for achieving humor—exaggeration, juxtaposition, shock/surprise, extreme situations, sound/rhythm/wordplay, irony, attitude, absurdity. The various types of humor.

People: Finding the stupidity in people. Round and flat characters. Showing vs. Telling. Methods for showing characters. Ridiculing groups of people.

Structure: The basic structural techniques for humor—the rule of three, snowballing. Finding a major dramatic question. Shaping a beginning, middle, and end. Breaking the structural norms.

Point of View/Voice: Point of view defined. Exploration of the various types of point of view. Voice defined. Exploration of the various types of voice. Tips for finding your voice.

Description: Using the senses. Specificity. Techniques for creativity. Finding the right words. Merging description with point of view. Describing funny situations. Bad (but funny) descriptions.

Dialogue: The importance of scene. Dialogue's illusion of reality. Quotation marks and tags. Stage directions. Summarized dialogue. Characterization through dialogue. Miscommunication. Not forcing it.

Point and Pointlessness: Using humor to make a point. Using humor in pointless (but funny) ways.

Precision: Hacking through the early stages. Zeroing in on the perfect words and achieving economy. Strengthening the humor techniques. Finding the peaks and valleys. Testing out the humor.

The Business: Proper format for manuscripts. How to target publishing houses, magazines, newspapers, and agents. How to send your work out. Query letters.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.