Developing the comedic writing muscle
Sierra Kay is known for writing fiction with a thrilling psychological edge. The suspenseful pace, the twisting plotlines and the memorable characters all keep us coming back for more. There’s no denying that these stories keep readers on the edge of their seats to the jaw-dropping end.
But look closer and you’ll find something that makes the books even more enjoyable. You may sense the undertone of humor sprinkled throughout her work. Because Kay’s writing is so character driven, the use of humor isn’t so much a strategy as it is an unfolding that develops as the character’s reveal their personalities and intentions.
“A lot of times it’s unintentional. When you are true to your characters those emotions just come out,” Kay said. “Humor is often how a particular character would react.”
Kay's own sense of humor developed when she was younger. Then it came out as sarcasm and snarky comments. “Comedy hits everyone differently,” she said.
As an adult she was bitten by the comedy bug when a friend was putting together a comedy show for Second City in Chicago. Kay hung out with them and thought, “Oh I can do that!”
She wrote a sketch, honed it and it went over well. “You use a different writing muscle for that, but it’s always been fun.”
Kay wrote sketches for seven years, until the theater experience came to an abrupt halt during Covid, and many haven’t had a chance to return.
Kay with sketch comedy group pals.
As for writing humor in fiction, Kay says that what helped her a lot when she was getting started was the level of freedom that she didn’t possess prior to it. “It’s about pushing the limits,” she said.
“Because I write thrillers and it’s heavy material, it’s my hope to use humor to lighten it up a bit,” Kay said.
So what are some of our favorite funny lines from the Kay bookshelf?
We love Monique in Sweet Whispers of the Devil:
“Your mother should’ve let me shoot that bastard years ago,” Monique growled. She hailed from the Louisiana bayou and prided herself on her ability to shoot an alligator’s eyeball. Her ballsy stance seemed contrary to her job as a social worker. She explained once, “There is nothing that keeps folks in line like the potential for a bullet in the ass.”
Monique epitomizes the sassy snark Kay is known for. It can cut through a tense moment with razor sharp perfection. Even her metaphors make us chuckle:
“The Auberts couldn’t gain a pound on a diet of pork rinds dipped in sugar.” - Sweet Whispers of the Devil
Are you looking to develop your killer sense of humor in fiction?
your Sierra Kay Takeaways:
EXPERIENCE - Get involved in local groups or look for stand up opportunities. Try improv night or sketch comedy writing. Not an extrovert? Go see a live performance or study them on tv. Note the timing and know the audience.
FREE YOURSELF - Go on a writing spree with the intention of adding some humor. Let yourself explore without judgment. Is it funny to you? Let another read it. Is it funny to them?
TRUST THE CHARACTERS - If your character is known for having quick wit, allow it to shine through, oftentimes in the most tense situation.
REFINE - Have you ever heard someone tell a joke and it just falls flat? Don’t let this happen in your writing. Tweak and hone the humor until it lands with perfection.
HAVE FUN! - Adding comedy, especially in thrillers, can be just the touch of fun it needs for the book and for you as a writer!
What Sierra Kay Take Away are you ready to implement?
Check out a sample of her comedic work HERE.
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