Posts tagged philosophy
Posts tagged philosophy
My own jokes often fall flat, but here are a few things I’ve noticed about other people’s successful humor in case you ever need to write some.
First of all, you want to start with a situation your reader knows all the ins and outs of. If you want to make a joke in your science fiction or fantasy book that deals with the speculative elements, make sure that those elements have been long established in your readers’ minds.
From that common scenario, you then want to bring in some incongruity. You can do something completely random, but humor tends to work better when people employ exaggeration. There are several directions in which something can be exaggerated. I’ve laughed at comedians exaggerating their accomplishments and exaggerating their failures. “Yo momma” jokes work because they make yo momma out to be a lot fatter than any real human is. In the webcomic Homestuck, when Caliborn asks Dirk to draw him “porn,” it’s funny because it’s so much more innocent than the readers expect.
A common exaggeration is to have several events happen in a row where usually only one or two would happen. Another one is to have more than one person in a situation that doesn’t often happen to even a single person.
Oh, and puns are hilarious, too.
The follower of the day is cheapocheapo, a Beach Boys fanblog.
Christians, have you ever had an atheist, on the internet or in real life, tell you that you were stupid for believing in an imaginary person in the sky?
Atheists, have you ever had a Christian, on the internet or in real life, tell you that you were stupid for rejecting Jesus and you would suffer the consequences later?
These people are annoying, right? They’re jerks. The thing I’ve found both on the internet and in real life is that there are about the same amount of jerk Christians as there are jerk atheists. Being a Christian or an atheist doesn’t seem to impact whether somebody is a jerk. Furthermore, there are the same amount of jerk republicans as there are jerk democrats. There’s a certain percentage of mean people in the general population, and any subgroup will echo that. The exception, of course, is in extreme hate groups (though even there, people could easily hide their inner nastiness beneath a friendly facade).
I see a lot of books where one group consists of nothing but nice people while another is full of jerks. Usually, neither group would be classified as a hate group, so it always seems unrealistic to me. Lazy authors create groups that are made up of slight variations on the same person. They ignore the fact that the side of the “good guys” would attract bad or unpleasant people for much the same reasons that it attracts nice people. Likewise, the side of the “bad guys” would attract nice people the same way it would attract jerks.
Judge for yourself what the ratio of jerks to nice people is in the general population, and then use that for any groups in your story.
This can apply to any society, real or fictional, that is not the one the author is living in, but historical fiction authors seem to be the biggest offenders.
Every single historical fiction book that I have ever read that took place in a time and area where slavery was ordinary had one thing in common: the protagonist didn’t like slavery and was against it. Usually they were very outspoken about it. They educated their less enlightened friends on the evils of slavery. It’s almost like the author is trying to convince the readers through the characters that slavery is wrong. I hate to say it, author, but pretty much everybody currently alive is going to agree with you. This is no new revelation. However, I suspect that most authors who do this are not intentionally trying to use the book as a way of showing the evils of slavery. They are instead assuring the readers that they themselves do not support slavery, even though the book takes place in a time when that was a popular opinion.
True fact: nobody will think you support slavery if the main character in your historical fiction does. That’s the great thing about history: people thought completely differently. Nobody will think you are racist or sexist or homophobic if your main character comes from a time when that was the norm and holds those views. Ninety-nine out of one hundred people won’t be offended either, because they know that A) it’s historical and B) it’s fiction. Hey! Historical and fiction — we could make a genre out of this!
It’s hilarious how authors will do heavy research into how people dressed and portray with incredible accuracy the daily hardships of past life, but then have the main character have the exact same morality as people have today. If it makes you uncomfortable for your protagonist to have such different morals from you, then good. It always helps to write outside of your comfort zone. If you are interested at all in learning about other cultures, then writing a protagonist with different morals than you should be fun.
One of the most important parts in portraying a time in history is showing how people in that time thought. Too many either forget this altogether or have everybody but the protagonist be realistic for the time. To make a truly realistic historical fiction, historical mindsets must be taken into account.