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Posted: Feb 01, 2011 7:24 am
by phillybudd
This isn't really a Dramatica question, but I can't think of a better place to pose it.

I am working on a fantasy novel (wizards, that kind of thing). I wrote an "author's introduction", which is itself complete fiction, introducing the story as if it were real history and providing some back-story. I shared this intro with a couple of people whose opinions I respect, and was very happy when they both expressed great interest in reading the rest of the story.

Now, I intended the introduction to be witty in a certain way -- an academic who studies these ancient people has decided to write a novel about them. But both my friends reacted to a couple of passages in the intro with explosive guffaws -- "That's hilarious!! This is going to be great!"

My concern is that I am setting up the expectation in this intro for a laugh-fest, and that is not my intention. The story is actually quite dark. There are some opportunities in the story for a few witty red herrings and I fully intend to use them when the mood needs to be lightened up. But I'm almost inclined at this point to tone down the introduction a bit.

Just wondering what thoughts anyone else has on this.


Re: Humor

Posted: Feb 02, 2011 3:56 pm
by Leonides02
Seems to me, Jeff, that the introduction is a perfect opportunity to set the mood. If the piece is going to be predominantely dark, the intro should probably be very somber and without much humor. I mean, I'm sure some wit would be appreciated, but if readers are laughing out loud they're going to be going into the narrative with a definite expectation for that to continue. If it doesn't they're going to think, "Well, this isn't as funny as I thought it was going to be!" and suddenly they're pulled out of the story.

Anyway, that's one opinion. :)

Re: Humor

Posted: Feb 03, 2011 8:35 am
by phillybudd
The one line that really brought out the laughs was this, in reference to some fragments of an ancient magical treatise that had recently been discovered:

The fragments are now at the Institute of Magical History in Oslo. (There were many raised eyebrows when London declined to take them, but the Ministry there has its hands full these days.)

I guess I could remove the parenthetical comment without doing any damage. :-)


Re: Humor

Posted: Feb 03, 2011 6:08 pm
by UTAtheatreguy
An example

During the out of town pre-Broadway tryouts the show was attracting little business and not playing well. Jerome Robbins was called in by director George Abbott and producer Hal Prince to give advice and make changes. The biggest change Robbins made was a new opening number to replace "Love Is in the Air" and introduce the show as a bawdy, wild comedy. Stephen Sondheim wrote the song "Comedy Tonight" for this new opening.[1] From that point on, the show was a success.

I think your opening is the big sign that lets people know what they're in for. If you do a farce as your opening scene and then it's a grim, straight-laced crime procedural, people generally don't like the shift. They like an implicit gesture as to what they may expect.

I'm pretty sure movies and novels aren't much different.

Re: Humor

Posted: Feb 05, 2011 10:38 am
by phillybudd
Thanks to both of you, I agree.