Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Be Specific

This month I'm participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The theme I'm going with this year is writing humor. Follow along to learn about the different ways to make your fiction, articles or blog posts more humorous. 

What's funnier?

I saw an animal chasing my neighbor.


I looked out my window and spewed chunks of Crunchy Corn Bran out my nose. Mr. Dobber, my ornery neighbor with a penchant for wearing shorts, suspendars and black socks was running faster than a fat turkey on Thanksgiving. Which isn't very fast actually. But by the way Mr. Dobber was lifting his knees to his chest as he raced through our geraniums, it was obvious he was giving it all he had. And I would, too, if a large hairy llama with a dribbling slobbery tongue was chasing me.

To write good humor you need to avoid generalizations.

Use specific words.
Create specific scenes.
Design specific characters.
Be specific!

Pinned Image
Source rathrankin.tumblr.com

Do you find it hard or easy to be specific with your writing? Have you ever had a llama chase you? And if so, how did you feel about that?


  1. Sometimes I get overly specific, but I lose the voice and it gets a tad boring. trying to be better about that!

  2. You know, this is such simple advice, but SO USEFUL!

    I'm not one for a lot of details when I write. It takes me about a dozen revisions before the details in my stories come out like they should.

    Which is odd, because I'm actually a really REALLY observant person.

  3. I've ridden an ostrich - does that count? And then I fell off the back of it. Yes - I get your point perfectly , but putting it into practice isn't always easy for me. It's good to have at the back of my mind though.

  4. Short and sweet, Erin, but so true. Great post.

    I also think that choice of words and sentence structure can really increase the humour in a line or story. Rhythm is key in comedy. Well, that and . . . . . . . . . .timing. Look forward to reading more and I love the design of your blog.

  5. Super post! My favorite so far. Adorable pic, excellent advice. I'll be back for more on another day.

  6. Second one was definitely funny! I struggle with creating arresting images. But you can't overdo them either.

  7. If you show, and I mean every detail, then you're being specific.

  8. Awesome post. Very good advice to remember. I love the picture of the llama.

  9. First of all Erin, your blog is beautiful. In my classroom I try to help my students realize how important specific works and examples are in their writing. Great post!

  10. I can't imagine being chased by a llama. I think I would be alternately laughing and crying if a llama was chasing me.

    I actually enjoy specificity when writing because it makes the scene more vivid! Thanks for such an excellent and humorous example.

  11. You're right that being too general isn't as funny as being specific. But I'd add one more item from noted humor writer Dave Barry. (B for Barry, get it?)

    It would be hella funnier (in Northern California we say hella, so I'm being quite specific here) if Mr. Dobber were being chased by a kangaroos instead of a llama. Both Dave Barry and H.L. Mencken stated that words with a k in them were funnier. Nekkid is funnier than naked. Ducks are funnier than swans.

    Check out this Althouse column that really gets into using the specific word that would make everything funnier.

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