I know, I often mention that you should be getting your own copy or at least READING the Writer’s Digest magazine. (http://writersdigest.com) Here’s another reason why!

The current issue (Sept, 2011) has an outstanding in-depth article written by Leigh Anne Jasheway, entitled, 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING BY THINKING LIKE A COMEDY WRITER (pp 18 – 21.) Well written, as 99% of their articles are, this one is entertaining and enlightening. Read the full article for all the details, but as a recap, see the 10 ways listed below and think of how they might help you to write stronger material.

10) HOLD YOUR READER’S ATTENTION WITH INCONGRUITY. Incongruity is the main reason we laugh.
9) KEEP THEM ON THEIR TOES. Similar to incongruity is the idea of misdirection…
8) FIND AN ELEMENT WORTH REPEATING. Comedy relies on repetition.
7) USE FAMILIARITY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Building on the idea of repetition, the running gag is a popular comedy device. (Think Wilson’s obscured face on “Home Improvement” or “The Golden Girls” every time Rose begins a St. Olaf story.)
6) SATISFY READERS WITH A CALLBACK. A callback refers to using a memorable line from the beginning of a piece later in another context.
5) EMPLOY THE POWER OF PLAY. No matter your genre, lack of playfulness can drain the creativity out of your writing faster than a leaky bathtub drains chocolate milk and Lucky Charms.
4) STRETCH YOURSELF SHORT. The beauty about learning to write short and snappy is that it can help anyone create attention-grabbing titles, subtitles, and sidebars.
3) USE THE POWER OF 10. No matter what you’re writing, you should never settle for the first thing that comes to mind.
2) REMEMBER: NOTHING IS OFF-LIMITS. Comedy writers and comedians tend to push buttons and boundaries.
1) EXPOSE YOURSELF. If you’re a writer and don’t participate in writing groups or conferences, now is a great time to change that.

The author of this article is a published humor and inspirational writer, adjunct faculty member at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and professional humor speaker and comic.

Happy writing! And stop by the new Wordpress website if you get a few minutes! Lots of links to support you in your writing! www.nlquatrano.com.


About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014. Author of Murder in Black and White, Still Shot, Merciful Blessings, and numerous published short stories.
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  1. WOnderful post Nancy! Do you mind if I post it to my chapter loop?

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