It’s me, Lesley, blog owner, and it’s my turn to chime in about writing funny stuff in murder mysteries.I’m one of the writers whose humorous cozy mystery (Murder Is Academic) is included in the boxed set of mysteries What’s So funny About Murder.
I really don’t know what’s so funny about murder. Don’t you think I’d know something about what I’m doing when I combine murder and humor? Worse yet, I have a Ph. D. in psychology, so you’d think I’d have some insight into what’s funny and why the juxtaposition of murder and humor might be appealing at some level. And more criminal is that I continue to write short stories and novel length mysteries in which someone is killed and the characters then engage in a hunt for the murderer that involves humorous events. If I’m clueless about what I’m doing, why do I keep doing it? Isn’t that one of the definitions of insanity, you ask? To repeat over and over what doesn’t work? Ah ha, finally I can say something with certainty. It does work. We have an abundance of mysteries that include humorous events. Like the boxed set.
I set out on my blog to include visits from all seven of the authors involved in the set. Then I decided to invite others who write humrous mysteries to visit. And now the blog is filled with guest bloggers through January. You can see how many authors like writing funny stuff about killing people.
Here’s what I do know about why I pair murder with humor. Most importantly, I do treat the deceased person with respect. There is absolutely nothing funny about a violent death at someone’s hands. The humor comes in later with the characters’ interactions with one another and with the crazy events I embroil my characters in as they search for clues.
Writing humor into mysteries is dangerous. Many people who love mysteries hate humor in their read. And one person’s sense of humor is not always the same as another’s. What makes you crumble to the ground in spasms of laugher may leave me cold. If a reader is looking for a laugh and I fail to deliver, I may lose that person as a potential fan. More specifically, humorous mysteries seem to require in-your-face protagonists, gals who are nosy, opinionated, sometimes annoying, impulsive, you know, the kind of people I find fun and some readers may find too aggravating for words.
But here’s what I do know about humor in a mystery: it can create tension, it can relieve tension, it can ramp up the fun of solving the puzzle of who did it and, if the writer does her job, it can give the reader a real belly laugh. Consider how you feel when something really hits you as funny. It’s a physical event second only to, may I go out on a limb here, sex, okay not sex, but maybe eating dark chocolate.
As a writer, I want to create something that makes me feel good. If I create a scene or event that makes me laugh, writing is what I want it to be, a process that flows and sings, one I’m almost not aware of doing.
Sure you like a good laugh, you agree, but in a murder? Consider what a murder mystery is all about. It is most certainly about what happens to the protgagonist when her world is turned upside down by an event like murder. Certainly there is the horror of the event, but there is what follows, the path our progtagonist takes and how she is changed. She may face danger, loneliness, find and lose love, feel abandoned, face her own mortality, all of these part of her journey to find herself as she solves the murder. I think she deserves what we all need as we travel through life, a laugh now and then.
Do you enjoy humor in your mysteries? Who are your favorite writers? do they use humor in theri work?
Still only 99 cents.