Writing Humor:Advice from Lewis Carroll


So, I’m in the middle of sketching out my main character for the  enormously satirical novel I’m going to write next month, when I realize I have no idea how to be funny.  So I looked up some advice on writing satire from the pros.


Here’s what Lewis Carroll had to say:

Why dost thou call, oh wicked muse?

Why do you trumple through my brain?

Oh, how you squartle through my mind

Wherefore, you render me insane.

To pen a funny, start with John.

John is a carpenter in Leeds.

He pounds and saws and hems and haws,

And, oh how trumbulent his deeds!

And then, in wanders tiny Jane.

John loves her with a glurgling heart.

He wants her so, he daren’t let her go;

Observes her nightly, for a start.

There’s John, there’s Jane, and all is well.

You have a novel here, you see.

But all is bland and too well-planned-

And then-John plummets from a tree.

And suddenly, your well-paced tome,

Where plot would boringly expire;

Now has a trick-oh, how, and quick!

Your boilerplate is now satire!

Oh, slurby John, what have you done?

When you corrumpled from that oak?

To make it fair, I left you there.

Just when I thought you were to croak.

But, sentiments all flung aside,

Oh, snarkly reader, you enthrall.

The reason John is satire now?

The blasted oak was two feet tall.