Every book needs a dose of laughter. Even hard-core, scary stuff needs a scene or a sentence or a word intended to allow the reader a moment to breathe out some of the tension you’ve placed them in.
Writing realistic and funny dialogue between characters can reveal their chemistry, heighten the tension, and endear your readers to them.
If you ask an avid reader which scene they like the most, chances are they’ll give one of two answers:
- A) the smoking-hot sex scenes or
- B) the laugh-out-loud banter.
In order for writers to make readers invested in our characters’ happily-ever-after, in order to make them care about the fact that there’s only one bed when there should be two, we have important work to do. We need to make readers like—or at least root for—our characters and we need to demonstrate why these characters belong together.
Fun, swoon-worthy banter is an essential tool for making that happen.
3 Tips for Writing a Love Story Featuring a Prickly and Pessimistic Heroine (Thanks to Writer’s Digest)
1) Listen to how people speak.
Begin by listening to people: in line for coffee, hurrying through the airport, or wandering the aisles at the grocery store. Pay attention to how the people around you speak to one another: words, tone, and body language.
Your characters are fictional, but in order for readers to care about them, they need to feel like real people. Dialogue must not sound stilted or unnatural.
Your characters will fire off snappy retorts quicker than a real person would, and that’s necessary to write an entertaining story. Write dialogue that sounds natural, real, and relatable.
2) Keep it good-natured.
Banter is supposed to make your characters and readers feel good. It’s playful, flirty, and fun, and while your characters should have free reign to tease each other, they shouldn’t tear each other down. Very few readers will root for mean primary characters, let alone want to spend a whole book with them. So, keep the tension feisty, not ferocious.
3) Make it personal.
Part of what makes banter so fun is that it reveals something important: your characters are paying attention—close attention—to each other. Perhaps one character overhears the other talking about a quirky hobby and teases them about it. Underneath the whip-smart barbs, your character is revealing something important.
Part of what makes banter so enjoyable is that sooner or later, the characters will stop playing around and get serious. Banter is an important prelude to the emotional payoff readers receive when this happens Without genuine conflict and vulnerability between your characters, your story won’t feel authentic.
If you can write to make readers cry, then you can write to make them laugh.
Comedy is a subjective thing. There’s no formula for what’s funny and no surefire way to predict what will make people laugh. Consequently, the best you can do is write stuff that amuses you. Test your humour on family and friends. No matter how funny you find something, if other people don’t laugh, it probably has to go.
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“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish. She has mentored many authors and edited their work.”
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