Some time ago, I came across a YA open query-critique-for-critique on a message board. Since this was about the time I had begun reforming WTCB’s query, I had also been working on my YA murder-mystery title, Of Jackets and Phones, and I posted it.
To my surprise, the query received mostly-favourable comments, with the main critiques on Agnetha’s relationship with her late teacher (I know, but I don’t know the specifics and whether they are relevant until the end of the trilogy) and the tone of the query.
One person suggested for that – and as cosy detective mysteries are, apparently, a difficult market – I add some black humour. And, only recently, in this editing, have I thought about trying to.
Black humour is an art. And it’s difficult.
By blood, I should be good at it: my father is forever making jokes along the lines of “I love children; they taste best with white sauce;” by temperament, I should be good at it: I am a fascinator of the morbid and I can easily make a casual remark about death with no consequences to myself.
So, why is it so hard in fiction?
I suggest this is because I have to incorporate Agnetha’s voice, personality, essence – and I have to slide in black humour into necessary, subtle spots. Both not an easy task.
Black humour tips:
Ø Make light of dark situations.
Ø Every disaster can be turned around by humour.
Ø This includes the snark and sarcasm, not limited to teens.
Ø Whilst this does not mean toning down the conflict in a story, it means looking at the other side of the problem.
Ø In most works, a comic character exists to diffuse the tension; in black humour, the protagonist has, effectively, a DVD of those characters on replay in their minds. This shapes their actions; this makes them see that everything can be accompanied by a comment or thought contrasting the immediate peril or darkness.
Ø But black humour also includes mockery and twisting the truth;
Ø Black humour characters may well appear cruel, though that is not their intention.
Ø As readers and writers we should enjoy black humour!
These self-created notes might help me for the time-being, until I realise that they still don’t tell me where to begin with specific eyes to OJAP (!). Luckily, Agnetha is the “snarky Nancy Drew,” so she has bucket-loads of sarcasm to be used. However, I must remember that she is timid in the first book, too.
Style is a crazy part of this writing lark! Dii immortales!
As an addition, something I knew appropriate the moment I read it:
Fatalism, Wikipedia, “The view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. Included in this is that man has no power to influence the future, or indeed, his own actions. This belief is very similar to predeterminism.”
As I studied determinism last year, I know a great deal about this philosophy of ideas. Agnetha herself, though she little realises it, has an interest in the philosophy; where death is concerned, fatalism plays a core part of the theorum. Can we ever change the actions-to-come? Will we forever act against our wills – to a world never moving in any direction but forward?
Thus, I intend to weave in some fatalism – or, at least, fatalistic thoughts. That would decorate the plain introspection anyway!
This is only half and my plan, but, of course, goals help. Now, I simply have to steal the time to do this all!