Tag Archives: Memoir

5 Ways to Add Humor to Your Memoir by Stacey Gustafson

Stacey's head shotThe following is Stacey  Gustafson’s blog post from March 6, 2015.

Her eBOOK, for a limited time, is  99¢. Click here to get your copy, http://amzn.to/1Bgwatq Gustafson_Front_LO 092614

Her blog is: http://staceygustafson.com/blog/

   5 Ways to Add Humor to Your Memoir
Do you believe that memoir has to be serious in order to get your point across? Think again! Let me teach you 5 Ways to Add Humor to Your Memoir.
Adding humor to memoir will hold the attention of the reader longer by lightening the mood. It also helps us remember what we were reading.
In his bestselling book, “On Writing Well,” author William Zinsser, writes that “humor is the secret weapon of the nonfiction writer.” It is often the best tool and only tool for making an important point.
1. Use funny sounding words
Words that have the hard “k” and “p” elicit humor. We can’t help but laugh. Think Dr. Seuss.
The Cat in the Hat Quotes
“Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.” ― Dr. Seuss
Sometimes a word is funny sounding because it has gone out of fashion like mollycoddle and lollygag. We laugh because we have never heard the word before and it tickles our funny bone as it rolls off the tongue.
According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherently_funny_word
An inherently funny word is a word, which can be found amusing without any given context, like onomatopoeia. Such words have been used by a range of influential comedians to enhance the humor of their routines.
The consonant plosives (so called because they start suddenly or “explosively”) p, b, t, d, k, and g are the funniest sounds in the English language.
List of Funny Sounding Words
Bamboozled Brouhaha
Cantankerous Floozy
Gobbledygook Kerfuffle
Ker plunk Klutz
Lackadaisical Lollygag
Persnickety Pantaloons
Scuttlebutt Spark
Tater Wishy-washy
2. Use funny numbers
Odd numbers are funnier than even numbers. Would you rather have 13 mangy dogs or 10 smelly cats?
Large numbers that end in 9 catch the reader’s attention faster. Do you want to read about a kid that ate 579 jellybeans or a girl that could stuff 8 grapes in her mouth?
In the comedy series How I Met Your Mother, the character Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) uses the number 83 in his made-up statistics, because he believes the number is funny. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherently_funny_word
For great examples of numbers in comedy, Watch How I Met Your Mother – Countdown from 50 to 1.
3. Similes and Metaphors
Use similes and metaphors to enrich your writing. Similes often use connecting words such as like, as, so, and than. A vivid simile will paint a picture in the reader’s mind and clarify an idea.
Simile – a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “She is like a rose.”
Metaphor – a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” Think an emblem or symbol. “Janet is a pig when she eats.”
• Like Simba’s presentation ceremony in the Lion King, my guys handed me a heaping platter of smoky, charred delights. http://staceygustafson.com/barbeque-battle-mom-vs-man/
• The kiosk guys eye me like a polar bear on a hunk of meat. http://staceygustafson.com/kiosk-christmas-causes-chaos/
• At that moment, like Jolly Ole’ St. Nick, his eyes sparkled and in a loud voice and he said, “Where’s the nearest Home Depot?” http://staceygustafson.com/happy-fathers-day-mr-duct-tape/
4. Add Dialogue
Use dialogue to move the story along. It develops your characters. Natural dialogue will make your story believable. Use contractions. It sounds more relatable to say, ‘I can’t go” rather than “I cannot go with you.” Speaking like a character in a Shakespearean play will always be a turn off.
To improve your dialogue, ease drop on customers at Starbucks or take notes at the dinner table. Read it aloud to others. Listen to television shows to understand the cadence of language.
“What’s for dinner?” he said, sniffing the air for a hint.
“Leftovers,” I said as I turned on the microwave.
5. Sound words
Bang! Crunch! Slurp! Zing! These words are called onomatopoeia, words that sound like what they mean. By adding them to your writing, you animate your prose and amp up the visual.
Example “Shut the Hell Up I’m Taking a Nap”
I popped up in bed, blinking like crazy. Out the window I spied a saw. And a tree. Timber. Next up, I watched as he reinstalled loose fence panels with a hammer. Bam, bam, buzzzzz. When finished, with a flourish he let out a big whistle for the kids to join him and admire his workmanship.
By that point, the dog couldn’t contain himself. He charged the open window and jumped up and down to get a peek at the commotion. Ruff, ruff, growl.
For more pointers, read How to Write Funny http://staceygustafson.com/write-funny/
Do you have any humorous writing tips? Please share!

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Writer Interview with Sharon Lee

Old fashion ice boxSharon Lee has a short short story and a memoir essay in my anthology, Written Across the Genres.

The short short is called “Coming Home” and is filled with sensory details of a cold winter day. The memoir essay, “Hide and Seek”, is about helping her five year old brother hide in an ice box and her struggle to get him out when he cried that he couldn’t breathe.

Here is an interview with Sharon:

Julaina: How did you get the idea for your story?

Sharon: As an adult, I have come to realize the close call to loosing my brother when we hid in an icebox.

Julaina: What is a writing day like for you?

Sharon: Early morning is when my best ideas flow. It’s easy to completely lose track of time and write for three to four hours without noticing.

Julaina: What do you enjoy about writing?

Sharon: Writing for me unleashes all kinds of stuff and I find it stimulating, healing, and very fulfilling.

Julaina: What is the difficult part of writing for you?

Sharon: Sometimes the right words elude me, so I go on and come back to it later. Then the words untangle and my thoughts flow freely again.

Julaina: What are you working on now?

Sharon: My plans are to complete my first novel by January 2015.

Julaina: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Sharon: Follow your passion, write every day, and never give up.

Julaina: Thanks, Sharon. I’m looking forward to your novel and more short stories.

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Are You Writing a Memoir?

Violet’s Vibes has useful tips for writers. Her July 10th post was titled, “Memoirs–Facts or Fables?” Check it out at violetsvibes.wordpress.com/2014/07/10memoirs-facts-or-fables/



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Braving Memories by Julie Royce


Julie Royce’s story, Headed North on a Southern Highway will be published in the Times They Were A-Changing Anthology available in August. The anthology theme is Women remember the 60’s and 70’s.

Editor Kate Farrel prefaced Royce’s blog post with: Julie Royce is the winner of Prose Second Honorable Mention. Julie discusses the courage it took for her to write and then submit her personal story.

Julie Royce


April 12, 2013 · 6:28 pm