by Renée Gendron (@reneegendron)
I’d like to share with you excerpts of witty dialogue from three books. There are many ways to write humour. I like to play around with subtext and quick-fire banter. On the last one, I admit to struggling writing humour in a western historical context. My craft is always in evolution.
When you write humour, you need to have good chemistry between the characters (friends, buddy-cops, romantic partners—the relationship doesn’t matter, but there needs to be chemistry).
You can create chemistry by playing off personality differences, interests, perceptions of the world. Sometimes opposites clash and make humour. Other times, it’s when both characters know a subject matter so well, they can poke fun at it.
Intimacy creates humour. Little inside jokes or you-had-to-be-there jokes deepen characterisation and can add that spark of funny.
The truth is both sad and funny. A poignant remark can both be truthful and happy. Think of two detectives arriving at a crime scene. There’s a pile of bills on the table. One detective says to the other: at least he doesn’t have to balance the cheque book this month.
Play around with dialogue. If dialogue is too head-on/bang-on, it’s unrealistic and removes the chemistry between the characters.
Below are some excerpts from my books. The first two excerpt are from The Game Warden’s Match, Book 1 of The Outdoorsmen Series, now available on Kobo and Amazon. It’s a contemporary mystery romance set in Kingston, Ontario.
#1 from The Game Warden’s Match
Pulse pounding, he lowered himself to the chair. A Government of Canada header poked out from under paperwork. “Are you a government person?”
Cavemen had better openers—I bludgeoned a sabretooth tiger today. Do you want to see its tooth on my necklace?
“I’m a private sector person. You?”
“Government.” He drew another sip of coffee, having long forgotten how to play it cool. “Are you a married person?”
She laughed, a rich, smooth laugh that massaged his soul.
“No.” Her lips twisted at the corners. “Are you?”
The last time he was in this situation, what did he say? Right. Why did the Tyrannosaurus Rex cross the road? “Do you do that often?” he asked. “Leave gift cards for the homeless?”
“Not every time I buy coffee, but often enough.” She ran her thumb over her ballpoint pen.
A tentative pause hung between them. An opening.
“James.” He stopped himself from reaching his hand out by reaching for his coffee.
“Like the airport?”
“That was Mirabel in Montréal. The airport has one e and one l. My name has two l’s and one e. That airport hasn’t been open to passengers for decades.”
“I don’t travel much.” He shrugged. “How about the basics?”
“James Acker. Fifty, widowed, four adult children, cop, three younger brothers, own a dog.”
“I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. How long were you married?”
He sipped his coffee to hide his frown. “Twenty-two years.”
“How did she die?” Her hand rested over her heart, pressing against her lush breast.
“That’s awful. How long ago?”
“Five years.” He stared out the window onto the half-empty parking lot. A car slowed down to let a group of teenagers roll by on their skateboards. A woman pushed a double-wide baby stroller on the sidewalk. He inclined his head to Mirabelle, then arched his eyebrows in a silent your-turn.
“Direct and to the point? Mirabelle Bissett. Forty-five, divorced once, no children. No pets. One half-brother, one half-sister, both younger. Owner of a translation company.”
The tension in his chest eased at her paralleling his format. He liked her. A lot. “What do you translate?”
“English to French and vice-versa. And I speak Spanish and German. Bissett Translation also handles translation to and from Spanish, German, and Cantonese.” She traced the rim of her teacup with her index finger.
A comfortable pause.
“Can you read?” The words slipped out of his mouth, and he gave his head a shake, but still, his collar choked him. “The last game I had was when I scored the winning goal in my high school hockey championship.”
Her laughter bloomed like a flower opening to the glorious morning sun.
“Do you still play?” she asked.
“I’m not a player.”
Another round of laughter, a rich and heartfelt laugh that reached her eyes.
Masculine energy rose in in him on a swell of testosterone.
#2 From the Game Warden’s Match
“How long have you been divorced?” he asked in a light tone, but his eyes were serious.
“Since the day I married.” She lifted a shoulder in a small shrug. “Ten years.”
A second stitch popped, and an old hurt oozed. “I’ll tell you, but not yet.”
“I’m not good at this, am I?” He smoothed an eyebrow.
“It’s a good sign.”
“It tells me you don’t spend hours trawling cafés, restaurants, bars, and flower shows to pick up women.”
His eyebrows arched. “Flower shows for pick up spots?”
“You’d be surprised. All that talk about flowering and plucking and hoeing and bone meals can turn some people on. What would you do in case of a zombie apocalypse?”
A masculine laugh escaped his lips, one that took root in a place so deep inside her it was more desolate than Mars. “I’d gather my children, my dog, my brothers, their families, and my parents, and head to the cottage. Make a few supply runs and wait past the worst of it.”
“An armoured redoubt somewhere in the woods?”
“An armoured redoubt?” A sparkle flashed in his eyes the colour of the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Louise.
Excerpt from my upcoming Seven Points of Contact, Novella 1 of the Heartened by Sports series. Release in January 2022.
Soreness settled in the scar tissue of his heart. “Took a chance marrying my ex. I thought I had won the jackpot when she agreed to date but…she only saw me as her piggy bank. Bled me dry for years.” He slid the business plan towards him. “The Cataraqui Complex is expensive. Crazy expensive.”
“Yeah, that’s business. It’s also high reward. Invest more upfront, and you’ll have higher returns.”
“Trying to sell me mutual funds?”
A smile played on her lips, one brighter than the sun reflecting on an outdoor rink.
A round of groans and boos interrupted his thoughts. The second period had begun with Bruins scoring against the Leafs.
Great. Losing the game on both fronts.
Miranda swatted the air. “They’re not defending the goalie. It’s why they’re down three to one.”
“Eh?” Miranda caught his eye for a moment before returning her attention to the game. The lights bathed her features in a soft glow, shadowing the contours her face.
He cleared his throat. “Failing. They’re afraid of failing, so they risk everything and nothing at the same time.”
She angled her body to his, her whiskey brown gaze landed met his, and everything went silent. Miranda was the statue of patience with understanding eyes.
Excerpt from Jaded Hearts, a historical western romance. Release in March 2022.
The curve of her cheeks deepened, and she shied away. “We can’t waste the day.”
“Do you have a spot where we should dig first?”
“You don’t have to stay.”
“Didn’t you know there are coyotes in the mountains?”
She eased off the boulder. “Coyotes? They’re no threat.”
The loss of her touch left him cold, lonely, wanting. “There are wolves.”
“They won’t attack.” Pickaxe hoisted on her shoulder, she crossed the small clearing and inspected the ground.
“Hares then. You know how they like to bound. One might hop on your head.” He grabbed the shovel and followed her.
“Hop on my head?” She laughed a soul-warming laugh.
“Yeah, they’ve been known to do that in these parts. They aim for the shoulders.” His fingers trailed up her neck, along the curve of her cheek, following the line of her face until he gave her a little pat on the head. “And jump up to stand on your head.”
To be placed on a pre-order list for Seven Points of Contact or Jaded Hearts, please contact Renée directly.