In the past I’ve written about all kinds of things, including where in a mystery the murder(s) should take place (anywhere in the book, for the most part), dogs adding humor to a story, humor in general, and that life has enough drama without adding more.
However, as I say on my website, there’s nothing funny about murder, but you can find humor in the characters and situations involved in solving the crime. I love reading a good book that’s lighter with some humor. However, the simple fact is that not everything is, or can be, funny.
In Old Murders Never Die, you’ll find Sandi Webster and her partner, Pete, stranded in a ghost town along with her half wolf/half Golden retriever dog, Bubba. Being stuck in a ghost town actually does leave room for some humor, but in the process of discovering this town, Sandi also discovers some old crimes – and they aren’t at all funny. In fact, they’re heartbreaking. So how does a young, female private eye solve old crimes and move from drama to humor? Carefully, but I guess you’d have to read it to figure that out. Who’d like to visit an old ghost town that no one has laid eyes on in over a hundred years? Me, for one.
One of the most difficult parts of writing a lighter murder mystery is moving from humor to drama and back again. For the most part, the motive for the crime isn’t going to be funny. Frankly, I wouldn’t want it to be. Life is too precious to laugh at the loss of someone’s life.
In Bubba’s Ghost, Sandi discovers some deep, dark secrets about the victim, the killer, and another character. After she learns about the background of some of the people in the story, she has to deal with it and then try to get on with her own life. She does so, I think, with grace. In some professions you have to grow a thick skin or you won’t last. Sandi’s working on it, but she still feels sorrow over sad stories. She bounces back with help from the people in her life.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. If you’ve ever seen Steel Magnolias, there’s a scene at the cemetery where five women are quite upset. One of the women talks about being so angry because of the death of her daughter that she’d just like to slap someone. Another character pushes one of the other women forward, offering her as the sacrificial lamb. It was so unexpected that it was funny. That was a good example of moving gracefully from drama to humor.
I’ve read books where the manner of death, or where the body turned up, was humorous. It can be done if it’s handled correctly – it can also be the death of the book if it isn’t. Sometimes authors walk a fine line, and we have to be very careful about how we write humor.
In the meantime, Sandi and Pete tend to look at the lighter side of life as often as they can.
In the Bogey Man series, Chris and Pamela are amateurs when it comes to solving a murder, and that leaves plenty of room for mistakes which can elicit a laugh from the reader. Their latest adventure, How Now Purple Cow, involves senior spies and purple cows.
It’s all in the telling of the story.
Until next time, I hope you have a week full of laughs, and that no drama stealthily creeps into your life.
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