by Jonathan Vars on The Creative Penn:
One of the most effective techniques in fiction writing is to build up tension, and then to break it with comedic elements, regulating the pace for the reader, even as you ratchet up to the next scene.
This works particularly well in darker books, TV and movies where things can get a little grim. I’ve recently been watching Netflix’s dark sci-fi series, Altered Carbon, which offsets its violence with a smart-talking historic AI called Poe who runs The Raven hotel. The moments of comedy break the tension, even though you know another violent episode is coming.
In today’s article, Jonathan Vars, outlines how you can use elements of comic relief in your writing.
“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”
–William Shakespeare, Hamlet
As our friend Shakespeare tells us, comic relief characters have been around for hundreds of years. There comes a time in every story when we need a comedian, a quick wit, “a fellow of infinite jest.”
As important as these characters are, they tend to be written in a grievously one-dimensional fashion. It can be easy to typecast a comic relief character as simply a tool that grabs some quick laughs. Those who choose this route miss out on a richly vibrant and complex character.