This article was originally posted in November 2018.
Do you ever feel... suddenly for no reason, your writing becomes dull?
Like something was missing?
I had this moment.
Sitting erect in a chair, scrolling with a mouse in the computer, I looked over my story’s content.
Something was definitely missing, and the fact that my brother was loudly playing behind me did not help with my stress.
I’ve got intense plots, cool chapters, and mysterious magical objects in the first draft of my book The Legendary Judges of Magic… what am I missing?
Are the chapters too short? I looked through the draft. No.
Awesome objects too mysterious? I bit my lip, scrolling down. Nah, I had shed enough light on objects.
Too many plots? No, that couldn’t be right.
But… why did it seem like none of the characters were happy?
I snapped my fingers. I needed something funny! Under strict and harsh conditions, characters were too serious. They would need someone to cheer them up, tease each other lightly, and be funny.
Wait... didn't I already have a good character fit for the role? Furball! I set to work on my character Furball. Furball was a Magicore, a creature with invisible paws. She was already perfect; she had lively spirit and was cheery and energetic. I just had to help Furball say some funny phrases to create funny moments.
I think funny moments make a story more memorable to readers. Funny moments are the thing that readers remember.
Funny moments would include teasing, thinking, and a bit of acting.
For example, when Furball was running from the Bullfrog, a mix between a giant frog and bull, I giggled in adding the part where she thought, “Furball had to do something or she would become a pancake, squished flat. Maybe he’d add maple syrup! Oh dear. Furball didn’t want to be his next meal!”
I kept adding funny moments like these into The Legendary Judges of Magic until I couldn’t think of anymore. Then I read through the whole first draft again. Okay, the second draft didn’t look so great either.
Maybe I had put a bit too many funny moments.
I had reduced the fight with the Scorpion into just like, a whole page of Pia tap dancing, and the scorpion dumbly waving its claws around without doing anything.
The pages were stuffed with funny moments, but many such funny moments reduced the intense atmosphere of the content.
I took out the unnecessary funny parts. If I wanted to add something funny to my story, I would, but try not to put too many.
Soon the story looked better than before.
I had enough funny parts but… I needed a catchphrase!
A catchphrase for Furball!
It had to be something Furball would say over and over in any situation, and funny and catchy.
Something the readers and audience could take away from the story.
Furball got ideas easily, as a creative Magicore… (a Magicore is a creature with invisible paws) … maybe something about solutions?
Maybe “I got it! I got it! An idea!” or “Perfect-o! Yes! Yes! Yes!” and even perhaps “Uh……Guys? I think I have an idea…”. No, those catchphrases were too long. I needed something short and catchy so that readers could easily remember Furball and her catchphrase.
Then I got an idea. In comics, I always drew a light bulb over someone’s head if they got an idea. And I could associate that with Furball!
She would just exclaim "lightbulb!" in her mind or out loud whenever she saved the day or got an idea. And the “LIGHTBULB!” phrase was born.
I used the phrase as often as possible with Furball, in situations between life and death, while Furball was being creative… it was perfect.
And the best part was that I tried to signal and give a sense that whenever Furball thought or said, “Lightbulb!” that something awesome or funny was going to happen.
So I added all these into my story and finished my final draft, revised many times, and edited and then published it.
It was perfect!
I myself couldn't wait to see reader reactions to Furball's funny phrases.
My learning for this situation is to try to add funny parts in your story. Just remember not to overdo it and add too many and take away the intense parts of your story.
This helps to make sure that whoever’s reading your story will share a good laugh and remember the memorable moment.