Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Yes, No, and Maybe

Sharon Wildwind

As I write this, the sun is shining on Victoria harbor, the flowers are blooming, and the wonderful Bloody Words 2011 convention has come to an end. I had a marvelous time, met loads of people, and collected tons of new ideas, but since I have to leave the hotel soon to catch a plane and will get home late tonight, I’ll share just a mini-report right now. More next week.

This is from a panel on How to Maintain Pacing in Suspense and Comedy. The question posed to the panelists was, “Does humor have any place when the story reaches a climax?”

Yes, it does. It humanizes a very difficult situation and can add depth and texture to the climax.
~Don Hauka, reporter and author of the Mister Jinnah series.

Absolutely not. Crisis and the climax is all about tension and humor defuses tension.
~Phyllis Smallman, author of Sherri Travis series.

Maybe. If humor has been a part of the character’s personality all of the rest of the way through the book, it’s unnatural if the humor disappears in the crisis moment. The humor may change, diminish, become darker or brittle, but it shouldn’t go away.
~Anthony Bidulka, author of the Russell Quaint series.

Which just goes to show there are very few absolute answers in writing.
Quote for the week:
Every trip you take should produce a minimum of five written pieces:
a. A memoir
b. A character sketch
c. A poem
d. A travel piece
e. A piece of fiction, even if it’s only a few paragraphs long
~Verna Driesbach, author, editor and literary agent

(Looks like I have my work cut out for me after this trip.)


Julia Buckley said...

Sounds wonderful, Sharon!!


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Great question about humor during the climactic confrontation between sleuth and killer. My theoretical answer is "it depends," and reviewing my own work, I'd say that out of three denouements for my characters Bruce and Barbara, the first is serious with sardonic underpinnings in Bruce's voice, the second and third are serious but funny.

Sandra Parshall said...

I like dark humor and don't mind it in high-tension scenes if it's done well. Light humor? No. Everything should contribute to the tension, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I agree with avoiding light humor. If it doesn't develop the plot or the characters, why bother?

jenny milchman said...

What a wonderful experience that must've been, Sharon! I am noting Bloody Words down for when I get to start doing conferences, as soon as my book is out :) Thanks for sharing--I have to admit that humor plays a, um lesser role in my own work. Boy, do I admire those who pull it off, though.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

I missed that panel, but it sounds like it was really interesting. Bloody Words 2011 was excellent, and the CSI-Victoria workshop so good that I wrote 7 pages of notes. Good to see you again, Sharon

Anonymous said...

Jenny, Bloody Words is great to attend even before you have a book out.

Debra, I enjoyed seeing you, too. Great job on the Villains, Sidekicks, and Spear Carriers panel. I went to the social networking morning instead of the CSI. What to exchange notes?