Katy Lee here with a little tidbit about myself. Are you ready?
I love to laugh.
For me, there is no better stress reliever than a great big belly-laugh, especially in a moment where tension is running high.
Well, the same goes for my characters.
As a writer who puts her characters through some pretty high pressure situations, I want to carry over my love of laughter for them to break a little of their stress. (Even they need a breather sometimes.)
But I will admit writing laughing scenes is a big weakness for me. In fact, in my revision letter from my editor, she says my laughing scene is over the top and needs to go.
I’ll be honest, though, she is right. As writers, we know our weaknesses, and I know when the scene feels “off” or over the top, as my editor laid it out so poetically. Sometimes these scenes don’t mesh with the flow of the book, and in fact, bring the story to a jarring halt for the reader — and we don’t want that.
So, for this reason, I cut the scene and replaced it for the simpler tag line of just saying he/she laughed, which to me can sound boring. I tried to find better taglines to show the true emotion I was going for. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough description words to replace the word laugh.
Giggle? That just makes my heroine sound young and cutesy. Not always the persona I am aiming for.
Snort? I don’t mind doing this for my secondary characters, because it poses such a funny illustration, but I hesitate having my main character projecting this image.
Cackle? I suppose if there’s a character that is a little witchy, but again, not my main character.
Twitter? Sounds flaky to me.
And so, laugh it is. And that’s okay, because this is what I have learned through the process:
The Unlocked Secret: The tension release isn’t only for your characters in their stressful circumstances. The tension release is for your readers as they get pulled along in the story with your characters. A good comedian does not laugh at their own jokes. Their sketch is carefully created to build tension and emotion little by little. It’s all about timing the right words at the right place until the crystal clear visual evokes the emotion you are after, whatever that emotion may be.
Question: Do you have a favorite word to express laughter? Is there a book that has delivered the great stress relief of laughter to you?