Sunday, July 31, 2016

Molly B. Burnham: The Anatomy of a Banana (Writing, Humor, and All Its Mushiness)

Molly B. Burnham

Molly B. Burnham is the author of the Teddy Mars series and this year’s winner of the Sid Fleishman Humor Award. At one time she studied theater but gave it up to write. She holds a Masters in Elementary Ed., and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She has taught emotionally challenged high school students, as well as kindergartners and third graders. Before that she walked dogs, scooped ice cream, and worked at a number of record stores and bookstores. At various times during the day, she can be found eating pie at The Florence Pie Bar, which is just around the corner from where she lives. Visit:

Molly's session is jam packed with info, exercises, and attendees. Some highlights:

"writing is a joy, and a privilege"

Humor must be grounded in your character; their voice, actions, experience and P.O.V. all have to have a veil of humor to them.

She reviews the academic side of humor (there are three main themes: relief, superiority and incongruity) and walks us through some examples, including how in her Teddy Mars: Almost a World Record Breaker, at one point the kids try to break the world record of breaking walnuts upon against their own heads. The idea is funny, but if the kid gets a concussion while trying this, it's not funny.

If a character only sees the sad and miserable side of everything, it's not funny.

She talks about POWER, and how if your character is powerless, it's not funny.

Molly covers additional elements of writing humor (including enthusiasm, opinions, and following the logic of scene.) She also walks us through some of her favorite exercises for writing comedy.

An excellent session!

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