Thursday, October 27, 2016

Leaning on the Familiar

I’m not a comedian, but I love good, clean comedy. I read that two of the keys to success in this area are identifying with the listener, and timing. How do we allow our readers to identify with our characters and our story?

In comedy, it’s finding commonality. Leaning on the familiar. Ken Davis, a Christian comedian, performed a sketch about how messy his daughters were growing up. He said the cockroaches moved out, saying, “I can’t live like this.” I howled with laughter because I remembered those days with daughters. He talked about his frustration with being interrupted while in the shower, because he forgot if he’d rinsed the soap out of his hair before adding the conditioner. Again, this struck my funny bone, because I thought I was the only one who had experienced that, and had thought I was losing my mind. Instead, I discovered I was “normal.”

So how do we write so our readers can feel familiarity in our work? How do we make our characters so real they seem like members of our family, or at least people we’ve met?

We let our characters suffer some of the same inadequacies we have felt, similar fears and doubts. We allow them to fail as we’ve done and perhaps experience forgiveness and hope. We observe our world and record some of the hilarious or thoughtful or tragic things people do, and reuse them in our books. It involves a lot of getting into people’s heads, and it takes practice and determination.

I’d love to hear how you make your characters real. Please take a few moments to record your comments below, and thanks for reading this blog.

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