08 September, 2011

Terry Pratchett Month: On Humorous and Parodic Stories

***My Insecure Writer's Support Group post is below, in case you're here from the linky list.***

I wrote a post some time ago called Humor In Writing, in which I covered the three main areas where author can use humor: characters and dialogue, plot, and prose. One of the more interesting (and amusing) things about Terry Pratchett's writing is the fact he combines all three. But there's also the element of parody in his books--I'll admit I don't recognize all the references to other material, but even at a glance it's obvious he's poking fun at the traditional Fantasy that takes itself seriously.

Most books have at least one lighter side to them, whether it's in the form of the joker relative or friend, circumstances and plot twists, or the writer's third person snark. Terry Pratchett, on the other hand, incorporates the eccentric (or just plain barmy) characters, outrageous events that manage to seem inevitable, along with a host of descriptions and comments outside of plot and characters.

Parody isn't seen quite so often. Probably because it's easy to offend people if you parody something, and probably because to do so just the right touch has to be used; otherwise it's too repetitive and unoriginal. It's easy to ridicule something else--but harder to make the attempt not come off as trite.

What do you think of humor and parody? Do you like it when an author uses it in all of the story elements, or do you prefer more seriousness? Do you enjoy parody, or are they not worth the time? Who or what's your favorite humor author or book?

Other Terry Pratchett month posts:

-----The Golden Eagle


Liz said...

I love humor in books. Parody is okay if done well, although sometimes I miss those jokes entirely.

Terry Pratchett has the right touch when it comes to balancing humor and story. A lot of the comedy seems to come from how the characters are rather than putting stock figures into situations and trying to make funny from that. I like that.

Susan Fields said...

I love when a book makes me laugh. Parody can be great, but I agree, it's so hard to do well. When I think of a humor author, I keep thinking back to reading Erma Bombeck when I was a kid - she always made me laugh.

Old Kitty said...

I think one of the main reasons I totally love and admire Terry Pratchett's Discworld universe is that we as readers never laugh at his characters but always with them.

Also his books are full of unbearable realities - of poverty, loss, pain, suffering and injustice and yet what we remember most is the humour - the backbone of his most beloved characters to see things through, to survive whatever is thrown at them - so that even dying doesn't seem so bad.

Am I making sense? Parody - Discworld totally pays homage to fantasy fiction - Cohen the Barbarian is a complete parody for instance but a loveable one! Religion is another favourite parody - to show the readers the many absurdities of such a concept but again - we admire the faith - we admire those who believe. The Hogfather saves the world and everything else in it because of faith because humans believe.

Now I'm totally babbling!!

Take care

Jenny S. Morris said...

I love parady, if it is done right. And, I LOVE humor. It is also one the things I have the hardest time with in my writing.

Christine Rains said...

I love humor and parody. I'm a big Pratchett fan. Yet there are other books that make me laugh like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Some days, life is hard and it's nice to sit down at night with a book that can make you laugh out loud. I try to be witty when I write, but I'm not that good at it.

Christina Farley said...

I've never read Pratchett's books but I keep telling myself I need to. Not enough hours in the day. And I like humor. can't write it for anything but I love reading it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Although I definitely don't consider humor a strength of mine, I did try a few humorous fantasy stories in Bitter Steel. Some folks seem to enjoy them, although I could never do what Pratchett has done.

BornStoryteller said...

Good parody/satire strikes the right chord in me, and normally Pratchett does it. Great wit makes it happen.

Roger Zelazny could do it well and be serious as anything in most of his books/short stories.

I've also been enjoying A. Lee Martinez: just fun reads. A blub on the back calls him "the American Terry Pratchett."

....Petty Witter said...

Hard to do well, I must confess I don't always get TP's brand of humour.

Flying high in the sky.... said...

very interesting :)!

The Golden Eagle said...

Liz: Me, too. Sometimes I'll end up reading or hearing about a reference later--or it will just go click! at a random time.

Susan: I've never heard of her; will have to check out her books. :)

Old Kitty: Well, when you find out about DEATH, it really doesn't seem so bad. ;)

Definitely. I know what you mean--there is a balance between the silly and the serious, and he does cover subjects that have relevance.

Jenny: Same here. Sometimes, if I'm in the right mood, I can get the humor to come out right--but more often not. :P

Christine: I've never read that series.

Me, neither. But it is nice to be able to crack up at a something you're reading, to get some comic relief. :)

Christina: You should. ;) Hope you get some time to soon!

I can't really write it well, either. Just comes out sounding unnatural, or out of place. Or just un-funny.

Charles: Serious writing is necessary, but I find it's nice to sit back and laugh at a book now and then. :)

Neither could I. I don't have the right kind of writing style.

Stuart: I have never heard of Roger Zelazny before, but I'll have to check out his books. :)

That's enough for me. I hope they live up to that review!

Tracy: There have been a few times when I was reading his books that I didn't find something as funny as it seemed to be meant--but overall I like his humor. :P

Flying high: Thanks! :)