Tag Archives: William Goldman

The “Good Parts” Version

Hello, friends.  Casey here. I was all set to write a Halloween themed post, but instead, I’d rather recommend a book and a philosophy.

I recently read Cary Elwes book, As You Wish:Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.  When I heard this book was out, I did a very strange thing. I ran to Barnes and Noble and bought the hardcover. And I paid full price! 

Normally, I buy digital. Largely because I am drowning in books. So obviously, to me, this was a special “must have” book.

After purchasing my copy, I dropped everything I was doing and read it. I laughed, I cried (especially the parts about Andre the Giant) and I remembered my own life back then with this strange nostalgia.

It’s hard to believe that when the movie was released in 1987 that it wasn’t a theatrical success. It’s popularity arrived after the video release of the movie. Then, I’m sure there were plenty of people who’d wished they’d seen it in the theater.

I’m one of the lucky people who did see it in a theater. And, while many years have passed, I remember that experience. My college housemates and I went to a matinee (probably to escape studying) in nearby Virginia. It was LOVE at first viewing. I remember thinking it was the most amazing movie I’d ever seen. In short, I knew I’d seen something special. Almost life changing.

It wasn’t any one thing either but a combination of the perfect actors, with the right director and, by golly, the dialogue. So many gems. These  are some of my favorite:

“Inconceivable!”

“Get used to disappointment.”

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

And, the most romantic way of saying, I love you - “As you wish.”

Now close to thirty years later, as a writer, I can’t help but think, “Damn. This is like the most perfect fairy tale. Ever.”

And not just the movie version, but the book too. Somehow, I managed to completely miss reading the book growing up. I rectified that when the 25th anniversary edition came out. One of the writer lessons I learned (and must have internalized) was the subtitle: The “Good Parts” Version.

And it means exactly what it says. No long, boring dissertations about landscapes, clothing, room decor, etc. In short, all the things I hate as a reader. All the parts that I gloss over or skip right past.

I’m in the process of editing my first contemporary romance- Over Easy. And I’ve been cutting like a fiend. I’ve been creating what I hope is, The “Good Parts” Version.

And really, that is what editing should be all about. Creating the best, grab the reader by the pants, version of a story.

Laughter: The Third Greatest Gift

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Some of us enjoy our humor dry and witty. While others prefer slapstick, raunchy or down-right rude. Or maybe your mood dictates what you think is funny.

I think part of the reason I fell in love with urban fantasy is the genre embraces snark in a serious way. While some level of “funny” isn’t required in the books I enjoy, I always love it when an author gets me.

You know, that moment, when the laugh comes out of the blue. I don’t how other authors do it, but when I’m writing, humor sneaks up on me and comes from the characters (not me!!). And often times, I don’t realize I’ve written something “funny” until someone else points it out to me.

And what you find funny, someone else may not. Like wine, there are different vintages of funny. Personally, I fall into the witty, sarcastic camp. The snarkier the better. I enjoy authors like Bill Bryson (Tales of the Thunderbolt Kid: one boy, one sleeping uncle, a magnifying glass and mysterious burn spots). The book is a non-fiction memoir of his childhood and it’s hilarious.

My favorite urban fantasy authors are: Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Simon Green (Eddie Drood or Nightside books) and you can never go wrong with Christopher Moore (A Dirty Job - love those sewer harpies!), Terry Pratchett (The Hogfather- the wackiest Christmas story ever) or A Lee Martinez (Gil’s All Fright Diner - who doesn’t love a roadside diner that’s constantly attacked by the undead?).

If UF isn’t your thing, check out Kristan Higgins (the shovel scene in Too Good To Be True still gives me the giggles), Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Books or our soon to be published Scribe – Jamie Pope (aka Sugar Jamison).

How do these writers do it? Well, I can’t tell you how to be funny and I don’t know the magical spring where their talent comes from, but I can suggest some logical places to sprinkle humor into a story.

Narration -this kind of humor is often found in first person books, think Bridget Jones’ Diary or see the aforementioned urban fantasy authors or Ms. Kristan Higgins! Just having a window into the character’s thoughts can be funny. What they think about other characters – the annoying neighbor, the crazy aunt with lipstick on her teeth or how the character views herself –  are all areas to slip in the funny.

Situational – humor can be injected by using the circumstances in which characters find themselves. Think Stephanie Plum and all her captures gone wrong. Another popular choice is The Date From Hell, The Family Event from Hell (wedding, funeral, graduation) or the plan that goes horribly awry.

Banter – This is my personal favorite. Here, the heroine/hero engage in witty exhanges with other characters.I jones on characters verbally sparring in humorous ways. For example – The Princess Bride by William Goldman or A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.

Note: these can be mixed and matched as needed.

One thing to keep in mind – forced humor is not funny. Readers can smell phony attempts from a mile it away. Don’t be lame! And, remember, the normal rules of storytelling apply – don’t add humor for the sake of it. If it doesn’t advance the plot or grow your character – axe it!

In case you’re wondering about the title of this blog post – check out The Muppets (2011 version) and enlightenment will find you!

What kind of humor do you enjoy? Favorite funny writer? Have a technique or advice to share?