Clever quips and witty remarks from the narrator are things I like in stories (I love how Eoin Colfer did it), but when is it too much? I want to add a bit more kick and humor to my stories, especially my short stories, but I don’t know whether I’m adding too much. How can I make sure it doesn’t slow down the pace or get too annoying?
Thanks a bunch,Nobody
Since they are implemented at the sentence level, quips generally have to be judged in context. However, here’s what I can tell you in general.
- Witty remarks shouldn’t make light of threats or make it look like witty characters aren’t taking threats seriously. Sometimes, you can get away with it if the threat is really large and the protagonist is getting their ass beat. In that case, the wit might prevent the story from being too gloomy.
- Don’t try to make your audience laugh when you want them crying or at the edge of their seats. If you have really dramatic moments where someone is dying, someone is about to be chopped in half, or two characters with an important relationship are getting in a fight, that’s not usually a good place for a quip.
- Pacing is an issue only if adding clever remarks makes you more verbose. The places that are most sensitive to pacing are dialogue and action sequences. For dialogue, it’s not usually remarks in the dialogue itself that cause issues; it’s putting it in the narration between dialogue lines. Fights are sensitive to timing and are tense, so they are a place to be sparing with any kind of character thoughts or remarks. That said, if your character gets thrown and needs a moment to get up, you could fit something in.
- Avoiding annoyance is mostly about not getting repetitive and making sure your characters aren’t one-dimensional. Give humorous characters other sides to their personalities, and don’t repeat the same joke all the time. If your witty character never takes other people seriously, that could also annoy readers after a while.
I have an article on problems caused by jokes you’ll want to look at if you haven’t already.