Camping Woes

The wind whipped around the edges of my horse trailer, and I briefly wondered what would happen if a tree fell on top of me. I'd be stuck in the tack compartment, cocooned in a sleeping bag, surrounded by saddles and snack food. How long would it take the other campers to realize a tree had fallen on my trailer?

Then I chuckled to myself. We weren't that close to the woods line, I was safe.

Half a minute later, a pair of hobbles slipped off the hook on the side of the trailer and fell on my face, rendering me terrified for a few horrifying seconds.

So I love camping. There's something fun about getting up in the morning and just relaxing. Starting a fire. Being outside. Reading a book in a folding chair.

But, as one does, I have camping stories.

Like the time I was kayak camping and a friend carried an entire cast iron pot in his kayak and made peach cobbler while in the wilderness.

Or "bare essentials" kayak camping with just some Chef Boyardee cans for food and a hammock to sleep in...and the hammock stretches so much during the night I wake up and find I'm basically sleeping on the ground.

Or the time we went kayak camping and the river was so high we camped in the parking lot. *ducks head*

Or the time I rode my horses to a nearby bluegrass festival and camped overnight with them and someone set off fireworks beside the horses and...yah...I never went back.

Or the time we were camping at an endurance race and someone's horses got loose and raced about the camp and nearly trampled our tent.

Or the time we took the pull-behind camper to a church conference and the truck decided to stall everytime we went into reverse (so getting into the campsite was a challenge), and then the hookups were damaged and we blew 2 tires on the van while driving into town to get equipment to fix the hookups and we pulled into the wal-mart parking lot with only two tires to find the Wal-Mart is permanently closed and then the friend who was going to pick us up got lost and we finally got back and managed to get something worked with the hookups but that backfired when we accidentally electrocuted the whole camper so every time you touch it you get shocked and in the end we just went without lights and AC for an entire week in the middle of a KY summer.

Or the time we did a Ragnar race during a hurricane and the entire field flooded and tents were drifting down in the current and mud was everywhere and the race was cancelled halfway through the event.

And then just a few weeks back, when I forgot my 20-year-old tent was technically just a kids play tent....and not a waterproof outdoor tent.... hence me sleeping in the horse trailer for two nights, with a damp sleeping bag and backpack...and a drenched play tent in the back of the truck.

I like camping, but let's be honest, nothing beats my nice bed.

Situational Humor

Situational Humor is not super hard to write. Some people seem more naturally drawn to it in their writing.

But it's simple.

Start with one thing. One simple moment...say your character plans to do something. They want to step forward to volunteer for an important mission at the Big Important Meeting later that day.

Then ruin it. And not just "character steps forward to volunteer and awkwardly stutters something" ruin it.

We are talking "humiliate them to the end of time" ruin it.

While putting on their boots to leave for the meeting, they remember their boots are still soaking wet from being out in the rain the previous day. They can either slosh their way across town, or break out their spare pair.

They vote for the spare pair of boots and then on their way out the door, they remember why it's the spare pair...the boots are two sizes too big.

So they slap-slap their way across town, worrying about being late, when the neighbor grabs holt of their elbow and reminds the MC about some task or other that the MC had promised to do. And they want it done now. So the MC has no choice but to hurriedly weed the garden or cut the grass or whatever, and in the process they get stung by a bee and now their face is swollen on one side and they're sweaty from all the labor.

So off the MC slap-slaps in their extra large boots, hurrying to the meeting so they don't arrive too late...and then they're almost there when a friend steps in front of their path with a huge goose under each arm. "Look what I got at auction!" the friend grins. "I got one for both of us!"

Trying to thank the friend through gasping breaths, the MC grabs the squawking goose gift and continues the race towards the Important Town Meeting. Banging the doors open 2 minutes after the hour, the MC bursts into the meeting, beet red and dripping in sweat, wearing boots two sizes too big, with a hugely swollen cheek from a bee sting, and carrying an angry goose. "I volunteer!" the MC manages to say, trying to regain any remaining shreds of dignity. "I can do this important task!"

*mic drop*

And there you have it. Situational Humor. No snark. Not a quick one-liner. But a couple paragraphs of a growing situation.

Learn anything?

Like me recapitulate.

-Take a situation.

-Decide to ruin it.

-Start with something simple happening.

-Add something else to happen.

-Add a third thing.

-And a fourth.

-Continue until peak chaos has ensued.

Okay, so there's a little more to it than that. There are a few things you need to be aware of in order to write Situational Humor.

Be willing to make a "cool" character less cool. That cool, black leather outfit is out. Spending almost the entire book in Pajama Pants because stuff keeps happening and the character has no time to change is in. I may not be able to relate to "knives hidden in every conceivable place" (okay, so some of my friends might argue that) but I can relate to "I just came downstairs in my PJs and apparently we have company and now I'm outside chasing a cow in the middle of the night in my bathrobe and slippers."

One thing in itself may not be super funny, but a number of things happening at one time is what makes a situation hilarious. The MC showing up in the meeting room with a goose might be kinda funny. But you gotta add in all the other stuff to paint a truly memorable moment.

Anyways, there you have it!! Please drop some of your favorite situational humor moments below!! I'd love to hear them!!

Snark Levels: Rising

There has been a rise of late, imo, in regards to the levels of snark in storytelling. And not in the writer's voice, but in the characters. I feel like this is mostly in the self-pub YA genre??? Anyways, let me continue...

I'm not 100% ranting against snark. I like it. It's funny. There are times when I need some of those back-and-forth banters on a t-shirt.

But I'm going to be honest. It starts to get boring after non-stop snark for pages and pages...

We all want to make our books entertaining. We like it when readers quote the characters and want to put some of their quips on t-shirts and insta posts and all the bookish swag. I'm an author. I understand.

But there are other ways to provide humor and entertainment without resorting to nonstop snark and sarcastic humor. 

How to Write Humor: a quick crash course by me, Helena

First off, there are basically four kinds of humor in writing.

Word Humor - When a character says something funny, or when there is back and forth banter, or basically any kind of funny thing that someone says. A quip, a sarcastic comment, a quotable quote, you know what I mean.

Narrator Humor - Kind of like when the character says something, only it's the voice of the narrator. Obviously, this isn't found in every book, and it can be subtle, or boldly on the page.

Action Humor - When something funny happens. A character slips on a banana peel in mid-sentence. Spills soup all over an important document. Gets spit on by a llama. These are also fairly common, but usually fairly forgettable. Maybe the reader chuckles a little as they continue to read on.

Situational Humor - This is like action humor, but it builds up, until it becomes a complete "situation". This isn't a funny little single paragraph incident, but at least a page of building up before releasing an absolute bell-ringer of a Humorous Situation.

Secondly, why is snark (or Word Humor) on the rise?

Simply put, it's a quick and easy way to make readers smile. It makes them like the character(s), and it makes them laugh - two things you want for your book.

And with the rise in Social Media, book swag, and book crates, quippy one-liners can often be a big help in advertising.

"Never trust an assassin within six feet of a weapon."

Sounds cool, yah? It's got a hint of danger, and people see that on a bookmark or a t-shirt or opening a Bookstagram post, and they want to know more about the book the quote comes from.

But notice what I said. It's a "quick and easy" way... It's easy to write, especially when you get in that snark zone. The words are coming quickly and your fingers fly across the keyboard, and BOOM you've got the scene finished and it's so funny and okay, so maybe the characters just verbally sparred for three pages, but you got the plot more or less where it needs to be and readers are probably going to be laughing the whole time...

Third - why write Situational Humor?

Once the four types of humor existed in harmony...until the Snark attacked.

*clears throat*

We need to stretch our abilities and be able to write at least the three types of humor (the Narrator Humor, I'm not so concerned about).

We need to write Word Humor so it feels natural, not stiff. We need to write it so it sounds like something someone would say, and complete it with enough description and action beats for the writing to flow.

We need to write Action Humor so readers can clearly see what's happening, and be able to execute our narratives with professionalism. A good little "whoops, I just tripped" moment can add realism to our writing (and a laugh to our readers).

And we need to write Situational Humor because it expands our writing abilities, keeps our writing voice (and the plot) from growing too weary, and when done right, makes a book extremely memorable. Being able to successfully pull off SH can help strengthen our Word and Action Humor as well. How in the world does one even write situational humor?? Answers coming another blog post!

Guest Post: Brooke @ Words in Her Soul

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to Julian's blog! Isn't it pretty?

You may be wondering what this is about. Well, Julian was very kind to let me guest post about my blog relaunch. 

If you don't know me, HI! I'm Brooke from Words In Her Soul. I have been blogging for years, but only a year and a half at Words In Her Soul. I've been going back and forth on keeping up with blogging, but I decided to do a complete rebranding.

What does this rebranding include?


First, allow me to introduce myself a little. 

I am the Indie author to a YA dystopian/Contemporary novel, How We Rise. I am also a writer, poet, and blogger. 

The main things I will be discussing on my blog are:

- Indie Publishing

- Writing Tips and Advice

- Book Reviews/ Bookish posts

- Mental Health

I am very passionate about all of these things and want to share my knowledge with the world. I hope my blog can be a little sparkle and sunshine to your day!

I will be posting every other week, meaning two posts a month, but I can't rule out extra posts in the future.

Thank you, Julian, for having me on your blog and for joining in the blog tour! 

And thank you, lovely reader, for taking the time to get to know me! I hope you decide to follow me over at my blog, Words In Her Soul

Stay Amazing!

~ Brooke