Loving to Laugh


At least once a week I’m asked if romantic comedy is currently marketable. While sometimes this category seems hot and then cold, I’d say that sharp, witty, well-executed romantic comedy can find a good home no matter what the publishing season. Note that I take the adjectives I used seriously. This is not a category that most writers can whip off with little effort. Successful writers of romantic comedy are gifted with the ability to find humor in everyday situations and the talent to share that humor in an entertaining way. The writing must fly like a magic carpet. The reader is looking for a fun story.

One successful writer of romantic comedy is Gail Sattler. Here is a great tip from Gail:

Good comedy comes from the heart, naturally. If it sounds forced or that someone is trying too hard, everything will fall flat. It’s got to come without it looking like a lot of effort, and it’s hard to be funny on cue. In writing, the best comedy is in the form of what can best be described as a running joke. The reason this works is because in the length of developing the background needed for the punchline to work, the reader is becoming personally involved. They know the characters, they know the strengths and often weaknesses, they know the setting, and they are already rooting for the character in some way. Then when the punchline happens, they’re right there to share it with the character – laughing with them, not at them. This also means that most of the time, with the best running jokes, if you just say the punch line the joke doesn’t work because in order for it to work the reader has to have been involved from the beginning. Or, in other words, the classic – “you had to be there.”

Does Gail’s tip remind you of your favorite comedic novel? Which one?


7 Responses to Loving to Laugh

  1. Avatar
    gina welborn September 29, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    Writing comedy is uber hard so I’m in awe at authors like Janice Thompson who does it so effortlessly.

    • Avatar
      gina welborn September 29, 2011 at 6:30 am #

      Okay, that should have been … “who DO it so effortlessly.” I suppose it would be lazy of me to hire a editor for my blog comments, eh. (Anita Mae Draper taught me how to speak Canadian while at conference so I’m merely showing off my skill.)

  2. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray September 29, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    Gina, you must have some talent for comedy. Your comments made me smile. 🙂

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    Kathleen L. Maher September 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Vickie McDonough pulled off the sort of inside joke comedy Gail describes. In Finally a Bride, she brings back a character from a previous book in her Texas Boardinghouse series who has changed his identity from the son of a pig farmer to itinerant preacher. He hates everything about his past to the point that eating pork makes him sick. She sets up the scene where he is presented a pork roast dinner at the boardinghouse, and the results are pretty hilarious. She’s someone who makes writing humor seem effortless.

    • Avatar
      Vickie McDonough September 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm #


      Thanks so much for your sweet compliment of my writing. I have a quirky sense of humor–inherited from my dad–so I always wonder if readers will laugh at the scenes I write that I meant to be humorous.

      Linda Windsor’s contemporary books have some great humor in them, as do Cathy Hake’s historicals. I love reading a book that runs the gamet of emotions from tears to laughing out loud.

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    Cindy R. Wilson October 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    This is such a timely post for me and my writing. I mentioned to someone just today how I didn’t think there was a market for my romantic comedy when I came up with the idea for it four or five years ago, but looking at it from your point of view, I don’t think it was so much that there wasn’t a market as my writing ability wasn’t quite there yet.

    And I’m a big fan of Jenny B. Jones. Talk about effortless!

  5. Avatar
    Linda Mae Baldwin October 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Well written comedy is priceless. Badly written comedy (misery) is worthless. It’s painful when an author/editor etc. doesn’t know the difference 🙂

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