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I write contemporary fiction genre with themes that revolve around the facts of life.
Bowled but Not Out (BbNO) revolves around second chances. Often, an individual who has been let down the first time from a dysfunctional relationship will not have the courage to stand up and look out for another opportunity. Despair and discouragement will envelop her.
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh; otherwise, they’ll kill you.”
― George Bernard Shaw
That’s when I thought of sprinkling humor in my protagonist’s life, Saru, by using cricket as a metaphor throughout the novel. I have projected Saru to be confident, empathic, funny, and silly at times. She bats away the sarcasm and negativity in the stadium that is her life.
Humor isn’t easy to define. While you know that comedy is a cognitive and emotional experience that often leads to laughter, you may not know why.
Why is something funny?
No one knows how to answer that question definitively. Humor is personal, subjective, and biased.
Humor is often the result of surprise. An unexpected action or phrase can be a delightful treat when set up in the right way.
“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”
― Erma Bombeck
There is a thin line that separates laughter from pain. I embraced some tips to be able to make it an entertaining read.
- Mold a protagonist to appear silly. I portrayed her as a die-hard Bollywood fan who would love to sing and dance around trees and even get emotionally charged if someone did a favor for her. This easy-going personality came in handy when I showcased her in a dysfunctional relationship. But then I also tried to have a character support her transition during that period and not give up.
- Compare two lives. One was the protagonist who had entered a dysfunctional relationship, and the other was her co-sister happily married. This contrast helps the reader get a grip on what my protagonist is going through, and it helps generate empathy for her.
- Use metaphors to define her tragedies in addition to happy moments keeps the mood light. I used the terms of cricket to do the above.
Example: “Go and hit the ball out of the park.” Saru’s dad cheered when they reached their destination. Saru realized that she had received a beamer and was quick to duck figuratively to avoid getting hurt. Her self-pride was bruised, but she continued to glare at the maid’s audacity.
4. Place a character reader love to hate. That prevents the plot from becoming too spicy and intense.
Example: “Just remember, Saru, the whole world will be watching you.” Mom got comfortable on the dining chair with the rotary phone on her lap.
“What a smart way to encourage your daughter, Sushma!” Her dad scorned his wife then inquired, “What are you doing?”
“I have to inform our relatives, Colonel. How will they know that our Saru is going to be on TV?”
5. Make them laugh when they least expect it. Never set the expectation that you’re about to try to be funny. It’s much easier to be funny unexpectedly. Attempting to be funny is a subtle side effect; humor is a pleasant deviation from an expectation. Then create a scenario where laughter is induced skillfully.
Example: Saru goes for a TV interview, and things don’t go as planned. But she turns out to be everybody’s favorite towards the end.
I usually project the mental growth of my characters as they learn from their failures. And in my Bowled but Not Out novel, I project the same. This young lady knows to groom herself to be a confident achiever and strengthen the platform for her daughter and her future.
The use of simple language, smooth transition of the story plot, humor, relatable and straightforward characters all make this book enjoyable and a must-read by one and all.
This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna
A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.
I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.
I can be found at:
Little and Laugh
By Geoff Le Pard
My father was a man of many aphorisms, epithets, old saws and clichés. A know-all, really.
But one quote he shared with us that not only stuck but resonated was from an American poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Laugh and the world laughs with you
Weep and you weep alone.
Laughter, in all its forms has taken centre stage in nearly every phase of my life, from irony to farce, pratfalls to priceless, life-enhancing fits of giggles. Whether it was as a defensive mechanism or merely because I enjoyed it, I don’t now remember but I’ve always wanted to make people laugh. Over the years I’ve tailored my delivery, become sensitive to my audience and played everything and anything for a laugh. I’m one of those people who you can always trust with a secret…unless it’s genuinely too funny not to be shared. In so doing I exaggerate, elaborate and elongate – no story can’t be improved with a new punchline, another character or an additional crazy side-tracking. Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good guffaw. I never have.
Writing for laughs, is, we are told, difficult. It requires precision, a well-oiled clockwork making the pieces slip together at just the right pace, in just the right places. That may be true of a novel (buy mine and find out!) but in a flash piece, in a limited word count, a simple phrase or a silly piece of alliteration can do what might take pages to set up in a book.
Don’t fight it; it is one of the most fundamental of human urges, this need to, and to make others, laugh.
Little and Laugh is your chance to raise a grin, trigger a giggle, release a chuckle, generate a guffaw, give life to a groan. Tell us a story – it can be true, it might be a BOTS (based on a true story) or it might be complete fiction – and see if what makes you smile, what releases your funny does that for the judges. After all being funny is no laughing matter.
You have 299 words, give or take 9 (ok, that means you’ll still be in the competition if you come in above 289 and below 309) to make us chortle. You need a title and, best of all, the title doesn’t count. Though a title that is similar to ‘This is a story of a Knight Errant and his lonely Pooch, Puddle who undertook a quest to better themselves when the world was young and Nutmeg still known as Crazy Megan…’ is not to be encouraged.
Using the form below, add your name or penname or a recognisable root vegetable and contact details to your story. (Note: These will be removed before judging so judging is blind and the root vegetable will be a small compensation for the blinding of the judges).
Copy and past your stories into the form.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 14.
Contest now closed.
Judges will rate the stories according to
- Story length (289-309 words)
- Does it make us laugh
- Um, well that’s about it.
- I suppose we should add that Spelling and Grammar and Punctuation and all that goodstuff will be taken into account but, really? Nah, don’t care. Just make us laugh.
I am very much looking forward to your stories. I do hope you join in. Surprise me. Tickle me. Turn me into a gibbering fatsoid of mirth.
CHALLENGE OPTION: If you don’t feel up to entering a contest, please feel free to respond to this in the comments as a prompt challenge. Weekly Flash Fiction Challenges resume November 2.
About Carrot Ranch
Carrot Ranch is a literary community committed to providing all writers access to literary art regardless of backgrounds, genres, goals and locations. Common ground is found through the writing, reading and discussion of flash fiction. The weekly online flash fiction challenges promote community through process, craft and exploration, and regular participants form a literary group called The Congress of Rough Writers. Their first anthology, Vol. 1 publishes in 2017. Carrot Ranch offers an adult-learning program called Wrangling Words, available to all communities where Rough Writers reside.
Blogger Norah Colvin of Norah Colvin has honored me with my second Liebster Award, reminding me that bloggers can pay it forward. It’s an opportunity to read other bloggers and to be read. As part of the acceptance, she has posed the following questions to her nominees, which I have answered:
- What do you value most in life? I value living in such a way that I look for beauty all around me and find good even when life’s path gets rocky. It feels like a way to live truth. Not big truths, necessarily, but my own.
- What activities do you enjoy and why? Since I still love to dig in the dirt, I enjoy gardening and scrounging for rocks and old bits of broken glass. Activities that connect me to living in the moment are best; simple things like cooking and writing about the birds outside my window.
- What is something you wish you had more time for? I used to wish I had more time for writing, and now I do. I think we fill our lives with too much busy-ness. I’ve found that by taking time to stare at a sunset or falling snowflakes, I have all the time in the world. It’s what I do with it that matters.
- What is one change you would like to make in the world? I’d like to contribute to world change through one beautiful book at a time. It seems we have too many books embracing darkness, and I just want to honor the hero’s journey within us all and to actualize everyday beauty.
- What is something you would like to change about yourself? To stop worrying whether or not people approve of what I do. It’s a deep-seated issue that I work on rooting out and some days I do better than on others.
- What surprises you most about your life – something good in your life that you hadn’t expected, dreamed of or thought possible? Wow, if you would have asked my three years ago when I was going to take on the “writer’s life” I would have said, maybe in 20 years. Little did I know that an upheaval in my life would open the door for me to step into that writer’s life. It isn’t easy, but it is what I’ve dreamed of doing and I’m doing it.
- What ‘big” question do you often ponder? How do I listen to God’s calling and live in the light?
- What sorts of things amuse you? Silly little things amuse the daylights out of me. I have a quirky sense of humor that’s easily triggered. I laugh at things like realizing that my hubby and I forgot to drop off our trash at the dump before we drove into the mountains to fish. I laugh at the knowledge that it’s going to summon every grizzly bear in the region and I’m so scared of bears. All I can do is find amusement in the juxtaposition of garbage vs. bear-fear.
- What do you like to collect? Stuff from the ground that’s old–rocks, fossils, arrowheads, purple glass. I have a keen eye for these things. I have a large glass vase filled with old glass, buttons, marbles, tokens that I find while gardening or walking the pastures around the house. I have bowls and clusters of river rocks, fossils and Lake Superior agates and beach pebbles. Oh, and books!
- If you could talk with anyone and ask them to explain their ideas and/or actions, who would it be, and why? I’d love to talk to my 5th-great grandfather, James McCanless, and ask him why he left North Carolina. He was a poet and wrote such sad verse about leaving those mountains as an old man. I’d like to have coffee with him and talk about why we feel compelled to seek other places beyond what is familiar.
- What is something you can’t do without? Internet! Awful to admit, but I’d go crazy as an isolated writer in the Rocky Mountains without human connection, and the Internet provides that daily touch. Also, I’m not only compelled to write, I’m compelled to share what I write and read and comment on what others write.
- What is something important you learned about life, and how did you learn it? A life of truth is not an easy one. Some truths are scary, others humiliating, yet truth sets us free. But many people cling to lies that they use to cover up truth. I’m drawn to people, artists and writers willing to be vulnerable in seeking their truth. This is why I’m drawn to write fiction–I seek the truth that is revealed in the hero’s journey. I learned this the hardest way, being a survivor of incest. Such families are masterful at deceit. Seeking a different way became my own hero’s journey, and I successfully raised three children away from that family, thus breaking the cycle of lies and ugliness. But it’s hard, not to have a family of origin that I can trust.
- What is your earliest memory? One of my earliest memories is of a black cat that I coaxed into being a pet on a ranch where I lived the first seven years of my life. That cat made me feel safe.
The purpose of the Liebster award is to help discover new blogs. In keeping the engagement dynamic, I’d like to offer this nomination to the following bloggers who I’ve recently discovered their poetry and short stories, something that inspires me in pursuit of my own fiction. You can read their work at:
I Am A Writer, That’s What I Am is a terrific blog with stories, thought, photos and quotes. Truly it’s a well of inspiration. I’ve learned that creativity is a pool we swim in; if you don’t dive into its waters, you’ll never know. This is a blog that you can dive into and find out about yourself and your own writing.
A Little Bit of Poetry is a new blog by seasoned blogger, Susan Zutautas. This blogger is multi-talented from the kitchen to her writing space. She inspires me daily with her posts, recipes and poems. I have fun every Sunday with her on another blog (she’s prolific) but this new blog of hers is new and deserves discovering.
The Well Tempered Bards is an amazing blog of poetry. It’s the kind of poetry that seeps into your bones. You’ll discover many poets who make guest appearances so it offers a variety.
Squirrels in the Doohickey is great fun. I started grinning at the title and went into full-blown belly laughs as I read entries. This is a new blog to me, but I hope other will discover it too–sharp writing, well-branded and spot-on humor.
The Real Housewife is neither fiction nor poetry, but is so funny it should either be chick lit or a series of life’s limericks. Kelly finds funny anywhere, and her humor is scathing. She’s such a character she might show up in my fiction (just kidding…sort of…).
If you have been nominated you can choose to accept to play along, or not. No pressure. It’s a bit of fun, an opportunity to connect and can help spread knowledge of your blog. If I nominated you, it is because I do read your blog! If you accept, here are The Liebster Award Rules adapted from Wording Well:
- Each nominee should link back to the person who nominated them.
- Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
- Nominate 5-11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 1,000 followers.
- Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
- Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
Questions for my Liebster Award Nominees:
- Congratulations! You just won a Liebster Award. What award do you dream about winning?
- What compelled you to start a blog?
- How did you come up with the blog’s name?
- What else do you write?
- Why are you drawn to writing fiction?
- What is your favorite genre to read?
- What is your favorite writing snack?
- What is your strongest writing strength?
- How do you keep focused on your writing?
- Who is your favorite book character and why?