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I am about to start writing a fantasy-comedy novel. A problem I found in 1-2 books of this genre is that the plot becomes weak, and the story starts to slow down.

The reason I believe this happens is that there is no big struggle or evil villain. Since there is no tension in the plot (as it is a comedy book), the plot soon loses focus. The story breaks down to "Hero goes to place A, does something funny, then goes to B, does something funny" etc.

How do I avoid this problem?

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Why can't a book have both a real plot with a villian, and humor? –  Monica Cellio Nov 25 '13 at 17:17
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7 Answers 7

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This is a misconception. Interesting plots are hard to write. Some people think "Oh, I put in some funny jokes to hide that I totally suck at the real story."

Therefore you find humorous books out there, which story is boring. But that has nothing to do with the humor in the book, it has to do with lazy writers.

The way to an interesting plot is paved with conflicts. There must be (at least) one huge conflict and several minor ones along the way. And it doesn't matter if there is any humor, sex, tragedy, or Pokémon dragon slayers in that book.

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Just to disagree with everyone else, you can write a book that is driven by humor instead of plot. I've seen it done.

Once.

Heroics for Beginners has the lousiest most simple minded plot that I have seen since Abbot and Castillo met their first monster. The plot is completely predictable. The only reason it works is that the plot is another joke, and the book is short enough that it is over before you can't laugh anymore.

I tried to duplicate this method. It is not as easy as it looks. A good plot is so much easier to write.

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Heroics for beginners has a great plot. I was continually turning the pages to find out what would happen –  Shantnu Tiwari Nov 25 '13 at 16:41
    
I've seen bad James Bond knockoffs with better core plots. (It had interesting subplots and great storytelling) but the fact that its core plot was completely trite and predictable was amazingly funny in context. –  hildred Dec 18 '13 at 1:33
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I would suggest reading Terry Pratchett's Disc World books. They are fantasy and pretty funny.

As a general rule, fantasy writers first create their fantasy world which is kept separate from the writing and used as a reference. You put the kind and nature of creatures, trees, prominent species, interplay and history between species, culture etc. And then you create the plot using elements from the fantasy world. Finally adding the humor as dialogue and situations.

Hope that helps

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why can't it have action as well? some of the funniest things i have read are action packed. the humor comes from what the characters say and how they relate to one another. does that mean they can't be doing serious things in the process? NO!!!! as long as they continue to be amusing -- both to the reader and yourself -- i feel it can be counted as a comedy book.

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Here's where I think you're going wrong. You say:

Since there is no tension in the plot (as it is a comedy book), the plot soon loses focus.

Why would a comedic novel not require tension? Every novel needs tension. There must be a reason that the hero goes to place A and place B, something driving him, something urgent and important or scary or wonderful. (Remember the movie Galaxy Quest? Funny, and with a strong plot.)

I recommend you locate comedic novels and read them to see how the humorous tone of the novel can work with a strong plot. I don't see any reason why you should limit yourself to reading only comedic fantasy novels.

Also, I think the best comedic novels aren't made up of one funny event after another. A little pathos thrown in, something heavy and serious to provide a contrast to the humor is often a good idea.

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In the end it depends on your style. If you are a Douglas Adams you can make every paragraph downright hilarious. Voltaire, on the other hand, wrote satire of the society he lived in, so did Mark Twain.

Can you give us more clues as to what you're writing?

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See, I agree with @Lynn's comment. You haven't said what you're writing, but in Voltaire's "Candide" he was making fun of the concept that we lived in the "best of all possible worlds" and "everything happened for a reason". Despite all the horrible things that befell poor Candide, he was incredibly happy and upbeat because he subscribed to Doctor Pangloss' view that we lived in the best possible world. It was funny because it made the idea overblown. –  David Good Sep 6 '11 at 20:54
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Write a plot with tension.

As an example, Christopher Moore writes incredibly funny fantasy novels (demons, angels, vampires) with real plots, rounded characters, and genuine tension.

So figure out a good story to tell first, and then figure out how to make it funny.

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