Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a gues post by C.R. Richards. In this guest post, the author writes about adding appropriate amounts of humor to a dark fantasy novel.
About the author:
C.R. Richards’ literary career began when she interned as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper. She wore several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer and cranky editor. A co-author of horror and urban fantasy novels, her first solo fiction project - The Mutant Casebook Series - was published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2013. Phantom Harvest (Book One in the series) is the winner of the 2014 EPIC eBook Awards for Fantasy Fiction. Cynthia is an active member of the Horror Writers Association, EPIC and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. For more information about her books, visit her website: www.crrichards.com
Books and Short Fiction by C.R. Richards: Phantom Harvest (2013), Lost Man's Parish (2014), Pariah (2014), The Lords of Valdeon (2015) and The Obsidian Gates (2017).
Official Website: http://crrichards.com/
About Creed of the Guardian:
Protect the Innocent. Punish the Guilty.
Seth the Ice Lion, now an Apprentice in the Jalora Legion, reluctantly travels aboard ship with his new battalion. Western Beta’s mission seems a dull assignment. Guarding miles of bogs and old ruins should be a simple task, but Seth soon learns nothing is easy for the Bearer of the Lion Ring. The Jalora is the embodiment of Good and the source of Seth’s power. It commands he search North Marsh for a relic capable of saving his homeland from the ravenous appetite of the Jackal invaders. Surrounded by deadly bogs and savage beasts, he must find the relic before the Lion Spirit inside of him takes control of their shared body.
Invaders from across the sea hold a firm grip on Valdeon, but their thirst for blood remains unsated. They lust for the riches of Andara. Using fear and greed as weapons, the Jackal enlist aid from the continent’s unscrupulous mercenaries to prepare for a larger invasion. They build a stronghold – Stone Fang Fortress - in the Bloodtooth Mountains of the north. It is here they prepare to conquer the free world.
Will Seth find this powerful relic before the Jackal swarm invades Andara? Or will his people be enslaved under the iron fist of the Jackal Lord? Seth’s answers hide in the deadly bogs of North Marsh...
Guest post: Adding a Pinch of Humor to Your Dark Brew by C.R. Richards
I released my first book in the Heart of the Warrior series – The Lords of Valdeon – a few years ago. While the book enjoyed mostly positive reviews, I did receive a few unexpected comments about the world I’d built being “stressful.” Similar feedback during an initial critique of the next book in the series echoed those first comments. Lesson Learned. I needed to make a change.
Art does imitate life. If stressful situations continuously bombard your brain, you might end up staring endlessly at a blank wall. In other words, you’ve got to laugh, or you’ll go mad.
Add a Pinch of Comic Relief
My job as a storyteller is to draw the reader completely into the world I’ve created. Readers expect escape and entertainment, but they also demand to bond with the characters. If I do my job well, the reader will care genuinely about my characters’ plight. In a sense, they do enter my imaginary world. The last thing I want to do is give them a reason to put the book down.
Tension may keep a reader glued to the pages of a book, but too much can be off-putting.
Enter the Comic Relief. The best example of perfectly timed comic relief is the Marvel Avengers movies. Our heroes are pushed to the breaking point as they prepare for their inevitable defeat at the hands of Thanos. We, as an audience, share their tension and anxiety as we watch the Avengers struggle to survive. All seems lost. We’re clutching at the armrest of our theater seats. Then young Spiderman makes a pop culture reference, sending Tony Stark into a funny parental tirade. Whew. We needed that welcome breather.
But how much humor is too much in a Dark Fantasy story?
Pepper with Prudence
Humor is like Cayenne Pepper. If you add the right amount, your dish will pop. Add too much and feel the burn on your tongue. What is the right amount? The level of humor depends upon your characters. Think about the Avengers example. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is known for his quick wit and constant quips. Captain America (Steve Rogers), in contrast, is more of a straight man. Jokes from him are uncommon and carefully placed when it suits the story. In the scenes they have together, Stark cannot resist teasing the quiet Rogers. I love those exchanges.
In my latest dark fantasy novel, Creed of the Guardian, I’ve added a particularly gregarious character to lighten the mood during one of the book’s darkest times. Jason Elder, Bearer of the Coyote Ring, wears a constant smirk. He makes it his mission to needle the outpost’s serious commander.
Jason is funny in his teasing of the somber Gregory. His humor, however, is laced with undertones of danger. Jason is a deadly warrior. I remind the reader of those subtle hints of anticipated violence in Seth’s, the story’s hero, reaction as he watches the two men quarrel. The tension unexpectedly builds again. This time, I decompress the situation with another funny character. Seth’s best friend, Riley, hates Gregory and expresses malicious glee in his anticipation of the coming brawl.
Humor has an essential place in Dark Fiction. It should be used strategically to decompress the tension of your story. Humor will also give your characters a deeper relatability for your readers. We laugh. Therefore, we are human.