Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bringing the Funny

A few weeks ago I attended a live chat at WriteOnCon with literary agents Michelle Andelman and Joanna Volpe and YA editor Molly O'Neill. The chat was fun and informative and there was a point when they talked about the things they were not seeing in their inboxes. It seems there is an extreme lack of 'funny' when it comes to young adult literature.

At BEA, I talked to several school librarians and asked them what their students were looking for when they went to the library. All of them said that many teens, especially boys, look for funny books. They often have to refer them to middle grade or adult books because, again, there is a lack of humor in the young adult world.

That got me thinking.

I think funny is hard. It requires a very specific reaction: laughter. And if you can't elicit it, you are explicitly NOT FUNNY. I feel like I know a lot of funny people and I admire their quick comebacks and their wit. But they don't do funny for a living. They don't do it full time.

There are a lot of ways you can fail as a writer, but there's something different about trying to be funny in a public forum and failing. I mean, it's flat out unacceptable.

So I can see why there might be a lack of humor out there. But for those of you who do funny, the consensus in my unscientific study is: bring it.

Have you read a humorous young adult book lately? I'd really like to and I don't know where to begin.


  1. You are right, funny is hard. Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are laugh out loud funny.

  2. I can't think of a funny young adult book I've read lately, though a lot of Louis Sachar's lines make me laugh. But being funny in writing IS hard, I think, because you don't really know what's funny. I never really tried to be funny in fiction, but some people in my workshop would still pick out things they thought were funny. Conversely, when I was in a humor-writing workshop, they'd pick out things that WEREN'T funny. As a result, I still have no clue what's going on, but I try!

  3. I know of a very very funny YA writer but she writes for girls (not helpful to the boys) But she's hysterically funny! But unfortunately, she isn't mainstream though I think she should be. More people should know about her awesome humor. (Jenny B. Jones) She does funny very well, but I don't see how! It's so hard to know funny and get it right!

  4. Hex Hall had humor shine through the mystery and paranormal, which I appreciated. And that's all I can think of in YA. I guess there does need to be more funny YA!

  5. Gah! I've been turtle-ing along on a humorous boy MG book. Every time I read something like this, it makes me want to beat my head against the wall, wondering why in the heck I can't finish the dang thing!