My question is: “In what ways might humour be a benefit or a detriment to a short story?”
It connects to the big idea “Creative writers take risks and persevere”, and to the curricular competencies “Respond to text in personal, creative, and critical ways”, “Use writing and design processes to plan, develop, and create engaging and meaningful texts for a variety of purposes and audiences”, and “Transform ideas and information to create original texts”.
I chose this question partially because I wanted an excuse to write a short story with humour for ZIP. One of my absolute favourite projects in middle school was to write a short story with a few pre-determined, quirky characters, and to just go ham with it. I ended up creating a 6 or so page long story (way longer than it needed to be) that was interesting, humorous, and an absolute blast to write. That’s why I want to do this – not just out of interest, but out of wanting to have fun.
From the aforementioned project and several books I’ve read, I’ve learned several things that work well, such as putting a silly quirk on a serious character, making the villain entertaining, having the heroes resolve the conflict in a very creative (and utterly ridiculous) way, and having the main character be the “straight man”. However, I’ve also learned that going overboard on humour and silly things can completely ruin the story and make it feel more weird than funny. I also know that there needs to be some weight to the story to balance out the humour – or add to it. There was one book I read that had quite a “dark” story, many “dark” concepts, and plenty of dark humour. It approached the horrible situation the characters were in with a tone that poked fun at how ridiculously bad the conditions in the story were, to great effect.
By the end of this project, I hope to know when and how to use humour in short stories. I also want to be able to see how others use humour in short stories, and what makes it work.
I can approach my parents, my teacher, and maybe even my classmates for support during my work and research.
Some other resources that might be useful would be the internet and other short stories. I could look things up to find information on them, and by studying other short stories for their use of humour, I will probably learn a lot about how the masters use it.
My final presentation will most likely take the form of me reading a part of (or all of) the story out loud to the class. I might also note the bits of humour as I read them.
Here’s a calendar of a schedule I will follow, changing it up along the way if I need to. These dates include both the work blocks and the days leading up to them.
- Dec. 8: Research humour in short stories
- Dec. 11: Read other short stories and take notes on how they utilize humour
- Dec. 15: Start working on short story, take a few more notes if needed
- Dec. 18: Finish short story or start work or do a new short story if I gain a brilliant spark of inspiration
- Dec. 22: Finish story if needed, do lots of editing/proofreading, note bits of humour in story.
- Late Christmas break: Look at story again, try to remember everything so I can present
- After Christmas break: Present!