Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lenore Look: Look Who's Laughing

Look is laughing! Or certainly keeping kids laughing.

Lenore Look is the author of the Alvin Ho series and the Ruby Lu series. Both are humorous chapter books about surviving the mishaps, misunderstandings and mischief of childhood and feature Asian American narrators.

Lenore never wanted to write humor. She wanted to write grim and dark.

Her first book LOVE AS STRONG AS GINGER was based on her grandmother's life in Seattle working in the crab canneries.

She was asked to do something more uplifting and thought, "Uplifting is good. Okay! I can do uplifting."

Humor is a lot of work. It takes a lot of tweaking and reworking.

When asked to do this panel she was excited, but then concerned because a magician never tells. She ran to the Internet to see what it said about writing humor so she didn't have to give away her secrets.

Humor Secrets (and these are hers):

1. The manner in which you tell. Look tells in a grave manner so that the reader doesn't see the funny coming.

2. Create diversions.

3. Look lets bad, unexpected things to happen to the character and lets things get messy.

4. She gives the character my flaws. Or flaws she's interested in.

5. Preoccupation with self is really good.

6. Spend time with your character and answer all the: who, what, when, and whys.

7. Write to make readers writhe on the floor. Write to make them cry.

Listen to the kids. Kids are funnier than adults. Write down all the funny things you hear.

Look suggests you think about what works for you. What's funny for you?

Here's what works for her:

1. Incongruity
2. Word Play
3. Misheard Words
4. Reversal of Expectations
5. Exaggeration
6. Understatement
7. The Omniscient Reader
8. Embarrassing Moments in Your Life
9. The Shock Value


  1. Love the nine examples! Thanks for the lesson in funny!

  2. You're welcome! I said ALL that? All I remember is that I was stuck between a rock star and a hard place! Next time, Mo, do it right -- it's not books you're supposed to throw, it's your UNDERWEAR, honey! Thank you, SCBWI, for a a fantastic weekend!

  3. I started out wanting to write dark and serious to, but now I favor the funny. Thanks for sharing your secrets...I won't tell.