Self Expression Magazine

Keeping the Humour out of a Thriller

Posted on the 16 July 2013 by Michael Joseph

Ten thousand words into my second mystery thriller, and I find myself wondering how many authors of serious fictional novels (of any genre) struggle to keep black humor out of their stories. I certainly do. I constantly have to resist the temptation to insert a comedy element into my writing, whether I am describing a character or situation, or narrating dialog. My previous post about writing distractions is a classic example. What started out as a straight piece of work soon took on a (comedic) life of its own. I find it’s easier to do that with a blog. The humor doesn’t cloud the point being made, and there is less pressure writing such a post than there is a novel. I suppose it’s like a recording artist taking time away from their full-time band to indulge in a fun side-project. A bit of light relief.

The whole thing has made me think long and hard about the exact genre I want to write in. Straight thriller or comedy thriller? Or a mixture of the two? Firstly, as a relatively new author, I don’t want to confuse people by writing in various genres. It would have thrown me if Stephen King had written a comedy horror in between Carrie and Salem’s Lot. So, the aim is to keep things simple for now, and as my burning ambition is to write a string of good-quality, serious mystery thrillers, I have to accept the hilarious but totally juvenile and facetious comedy equivalent I have in mind has to go on the back-burner for now. Of course there is no rule against incorporating an element of humor into any novel, and I hope my books contain touches of dry wit that enhance the story. But, at the moment, it’s a case of sticking to the plan, being disciplined (with my novels, at least), and waiting for the right time to let the comedy out.

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