on Live Write Thrive:
I’m sure you’ve heard people tell jokes. Whether you’ve listened to stand-up comics on a stage who are masters at joke-telling or a friend at a party or coffeeshop, you know what they’re all about.
The genre of joke-telling is all about the last line. Everything builds to it. Listeners are eagerly awaiting that last line because they know that’s the payoff. They expect a twist, a surprise, a pun … something entertaining that makes the whole joke worth listening to.
If you’ve ever listened to a joke that doesn’t deliver–that leaves you puzzled or disappointed because the last line is dumb or flat or obtuse–you would say the joke failed. And the person telling it is assessed as a not-so-great joke-teller. You may not pay a lot of money to go see that comedian again. Or watch a movie she’s featured in.
Thankfully, most of us don’t have to make a living telling jokes–because it’s hard to do well. We greatfly admire comedians that can tell a great joke or anecdote that builds to a terrific punch at the end.
But … if you write novels or short stories, you don’t get off so easily.
You still need to master the punch.