Q: How can you catch a young readers attention?
It’s a well known fact if you want to grab an audience you must make them laugh. Author Bruce Hale has some great tips for injecting humor into your writing. Bruce is the award-winning author of the Chet Gecko Mysteries (for ages 8-10), with titles that include: “Dial M for Mongoose”, and “The Possum Always Rings Twice”, and many more. Bruce suggests to insert humor in your writing you must use the rule of threes. How does this work?
Here is an excerpt from Bruce’s recent newsletter:
…Humor, whether written or oral, is all about setting up
expectations and then subverting them. We laugh when surprised.
One of the easiest ways to create this surprise is with a list,
usually a list of three items. The first two seem to logically fit
together, like, “Tall, dark…,” thus creating an expectation. When
you add a third item that doesn’t fit, like, “and bristling with
nostril hair,” the incongruity produces humor.
Of course, you’ve got to choose the *right* incongruous third item.
“Tall, dark, and happy” may seem to follow the pattern, but the
surprise isn’t strong enough, so it’s not funny. ”Tall, dark, and
totally whacko” is stronger. ”Totally whacko” has a very different
tone from “tall, dark” — plus, it’s got that hard k sound, which
The best way to benefit from the Rule of Threes is to experiment
with it. You may have to brainstorm quite a few alternatives for
that third list item to get one that works. But that’s only
natural. After all, many humor writers also believe in the Rule of
Nine, which states that for every ten jokes you come up with, nine
So play the odds. Trust the Rule of Nine and experiment with the
Rule of Threes, and bring more chuckles into your stories.
Even serious stories can use a dose of well placed humor it helps break the tension, and gives your readers a little break. Bruce has a site full of helpful tips including an article on how humor can help a story. If you’re looking for a way to inject a little levity into your story, I would recommend you check it out.
Writing on the Sidewalk