For the last couple of weeks I have done a lot of reading. And it got me thinking about how authors use either humor or extreme (serious) situations in opening their stories.
Whether or not to use humor in my book, a lot in the opening and scattered throughout, has been a big question. For me humor doesn't usually come easy, unless I'm in a VERY silly mood or one of my characters is that kind of person (who can never be serious). I tend to be drawn to the dramatic, but whenever I read a book like, Janette Rallison's MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER,
I love the idea of having a plentiful selection of witty lines involved. I have loved how she used humor in this way. And I actually took a hi-liter and marked my favorite lines in the book. Before I read her books, even though I've read others that used humor liberally, I didn't think it would fit in my story and that any use of humor in certain areas, ie. serious scenes, would take away from the feeling. But Janette Rallison uses humor so flawlessly in this story that you don't notice the shift.
Right now I am reading THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter. The second in my b-day purchases. (It literally jumped into my hands as I walked up to the cash register...and I'm usually not an impulsive buyer. But how can you go wrong with a cover like that? AND a book about Greek Mythology.)
Talk about whiplash. From one extreme to the other. I began this book with character, Kate Winter (awesome name btw) =), who has to deal with her mother's impending death, moving to the town where her mother grew up, and on her birthday of all days! How sad is that? In this case, obviously, humor would not be appropriate. The sadness sure creeps in and takes hold, making you all at once feel how tough Kate's situation is.
Now the problem with too much emotion all at once is that perhaps the reader won't take it as serious as if they'd been with the character for some time. And I think I've decided that I do love those humor-breaks in a story, which show contrast. Contrast is something I'm all about. Without one extreme you can't appreciate the other. It really brings realism into a story, because no ones' life is just one flat emotion. We all have highs and lows. Even amidst the worst parts of my life, there were moments I had to giggle, or I would go crazy.
I think that Janette Rallison has used this to her advantage in the Fairy Godmother series. And I know I've said this before, but if you haven't read her books, you should! I was going to do a full-blown review of this book, the second in the series, but I think you could go back to the review of the first and listen to me gush and it would have the same effect =). (And is it just me, or did Janette leave this book open to another one in the series? OOOH I hope so!! I would buy any and all books to come!)
So, what are you? Do you use the dramatic or the humor to begin your stories? And do you use it throughout? Why or Why not?
(Man, I sound like a quiz sheet in a high school history class!)