Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Melodie Campbell - Weathering Comedy

Whither Weather in Writing Comedy
‘Brevity is the soul of wit,’ as the saying goes.

I write comedies. In the old days (90s) I wrote stand-up, wacky greeting cards, and had a regular humour column. I still do the occasional gig writing for others, but mostly, I write humorous novels.

Comedy is not languorous. It does not usually come from elegiac sentences and glistening prose. Instead, it hits and jabs, and takes you by surprise.

So when writing about weather in comedic novels, one tends to be brief. This is at war with my Canadian obsession about the weather. We Canadians notice the weather wherever we are. Quite often, our conversations start with the weather.

So how to write weather into a humorous plot without slowing down the action or flow?

I do it two ways: through dialogue, and through sharp bursts of description that also give ‘place’.

Through dialogue: From The Goddaughter, Chapter 11:

I called home as soon as we landed.

“Sammy, you have no idea how good it is to hear your voice.”

“Frig – Gina? Where the hell are you? Vinnie’s having a crap. You’re not in Toronto. We checked.”

I didn’t ask how they checked. They have ways.

“Arizona. Phoenix. Nice place. Hot. You’d like it.”

More cursing.

Through ‘place’ description: From The Goddaughter, Chapter 4:

I was out of bed now, looking out the window. Bright sunshine filtered through the smog. I could see smoke plumes rising from the steel plants off in the distance. Hamilton does it best.

Actually, in both examples, I’m setting ‘place’ as well as the weather. And hopefully giving the reader mood or atmosphere by my choice of words. In the dialogue passage, Gina has been on the run. You get the feel of that from the staccato hit of the words in her line “Arizona. Phoenix. Nice place. Hot. You’d like it.”

In the second example, Gina is contemplating whether to do a courier job for her mob relatives. She’s weighing the pros and cons. You get bright sunshine plus smog. Again, this mirrors what’s going on in her mind: the good and bad that will come from her decision.

So what does she decide? Read The Goddaughter and find out.

Melodie Campbell has been a banker, marketing director, comedy writer, college instructor and possibly the worst runway model ever. Melodie got her start writing comedy so it's no surprise her fiction has been described by editors as "wacky" and "laugh-out-loud funny."


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