Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Callback

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 more about the different ways to make your fiction, articles or blog posts humorous. 

Callbacks are one of  my favorite devices for writing humor.

A callback is when you mention something seemingly insignificant. And then later on in the story, or stand up routine, you refer to this bit again in a funny way.

So, in my WIP I have a character named Matron who is large horrible woman with caked on make-up who is majorly man-hungry. In one scene my main character, Jasper, sees a couple of big guys heavily strapped with knives, daggers and swords. Later on, Matron fawns all over them, admiring their muscles and such.

The next line in the story is, "Now Jasper understood why the men needed so many weapons."

Callbacks are a great way to add a punchline to the end of a chapter or really anywhere in your story. And it's funny (no pun intended), because I've been writing callbacks for awhile, but I didn't realize it. Now maybe if I use callbacks on purpose, I'll get much better at it.

Do you use callbacks when writing humor? 


  1. Love this, Erin! And that callback was executed perfectly in your manuscript too! :)

  2. I love callback's there my favorite things ever. One of the reasons Dave Berry columns are so funny is becasue he is the master of those. If only I could pull them off as well :)

  3. I've never used a callback. I will have to remember this.

  4. Humor doesn't show up in my writing much, but I think this would be a good technique I could use.

  5. I use callbacks from time to time. You are right, they can be a great way to pull in the humor.

  6. I too use callbacks in my work, but to be honest, I didn't know they were called that! I love being able to label technical aspects of my work - if I repeat them back to the lay person, I almost sound like I know what I'm doing!

    Another great post, Erin. Really enjoy your concise, pertinent writing style.

  7. Great idea! I'm familiar with it, but didn't know the name.

  8. Callbacks are awesome. Dave Barry invariably ends his columns with a perfectly formed Callback. I try to use them when they feel right. I don't think today's column has one, though. Nah, just checked, none of the A-Z entries I did seem to use a callback. Nothing suggested itself.

    And one of my very favorite Steve Martin routines uses another one. He has a throwaway somewhere with "The public has a short memory" and begins a new riff that starts off with "Remember when the Earth blew up?" Audience titters, makes confused murmurs. "Doesn't anyone remember? When the Earth blew up? How could you all forget that? When the government moved everyone onto the Giant Space Ark? But they didn't want any of the stupid people to panic, so they decided not to tell them and--- oh-- NEVER MIND! Forget I said anything!" And after the audience finishes laughing at that he reminds them "Because the public has a short memory!"

    I had to go back a ways to find a column of mine that used one.