23 December 2017

Writing Comic Crime, and the Rule of WORST THING

by Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)

Leading up to New Year’s, here’s a short list of THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN LIFE:
  1. Men called Raoul are to be avoided. Especially when you are married.
  2. Coffee can solve a lot of problems, but it doesn’t help you sleep.
  3. It is a really bad idea to make financial decisions after finishing an entire bottle of cheap wine. (Okay, even expensive wine.)
  4. If it sounds like a stupid idea, it probably is.
  5. Never EVER go easy on your protagonist. In fact, invoke the rule of WORST THING.
My name is Melodie Campbell and I write comedies. I came by this honestly, in an attempt to avoid being serious. Most of my life, I have tried to avoid being serious. (Which is why I was a dismal failure as a bank manager. That’s another blog – yup, a comedy. But I digress…)

So far, it’s worked. THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE is one of thirteen non-serious books by this author.

But here’s a secret: writing non-serious is serious hard work.

HOW DO WE DO IT?

Comedy writers take a situation, and ask themselves ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now?’ And then, ‘what’s the funniest?’

In THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, Gina discovers that her weasel cousin Carmine has switched real gems for fakes while he was babysitting her jewelry store. The lousy rat! Now, some of her best clients are walking around with fake rings on their fingers. Her rep is seriously on the line if anyone finds out. What’s a girl to do?

Mastermind a bunch of burglaries to steal back the fakes, of course. She is the reluctant Goddaughter of the local mob boss, after all.

So let’s invoke the rule of Worst Thing. What’s the worst thing that could happen to Gina when she breaks into houses? She could get caught by the cops. Or shot as an intruder. But that would end the story pretty quick, and we don’t want that.

Also, I don’t want ‘worst thing’ all the time. This is a comedy. We need a balance of pathos and bathos. So what’s the funniest thing that could happen?

All the burglaries could go wrong. That’s our worst thing. And the WAY they go wrong is the comedy.

Houses aren’t empty when they should be. Her accomplice is a manic critic of interior design. Everyone in Steeltown is following the antics of “their very own Pink Panthers” in the local newspaper. The more Gina tries to be invisible, the more they become a sensation!

Worse and worse. Funnier, and hopefully, funnier. And that’s my rule of ‘best thing.’

Hope your 2018 is the best year ever.

Melodie Campbell has been called "the Carol Burnett of Crime" by industry reviewers who obviously are slightly demented themselves. You can get her books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and pretty well anywhere.

15 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

I loved the line about Raoul. I suspect that rule could be generalized to avoid any man with too many vowels in his name.

It’s surprising, but caffeine helps people with ADD to sleep. Caffeine ‘cools’ the brain. (I said caffeine instead of coffee; while I love the smell of fresh-ground coffee, the drink makes me barf– it goes back to a childhood incident. My drug of choice is Coke… the liquid kind!)

Melodie Campbell said...

Leigh, you may have explained it...too many vowels in a name and I turn to putty :) Didn't know that about caffeine! I have to stop drinking it by 3:00 or I'm up all night. Which may also explain Raoul. Oops.

Steve Liskow said...

"If it sounds like a stupid idea, it probably is." I love that. It's pretty much the premise of a lot a great comedy though, isn't it? Think of "The Ransom of Red Chief" for starters.

I'd probably think of more but I'm in the middle of wrapping gifts. NOT one of my myriad talents.

Merry Christmas, everyone (or Happy Hanukkah, Io Saturnalia, Happy Kwanzaa, or any other holiday I've missed).

Elizabeth said...

Ha ... I have a cousin named Raul, who is a pediatrician in Lima, Peru. We're related by marriage & he doesn't speak English. He's lots of fun.

Melodie Campbell said...

Elizabeth, I'm so tempted to ask: What KIND of fun? grin - Happy holidays!

Melodie Campbell said...

Thanks for commenting, Steve! I think everyone is traveling today. Probably should have saved this post (one of my meatier ones) until after the holidays. Have a grand Christmas!

Eve Fisher said...

I remember "Eating Raoul" very well.
If it sounds like a stupid idea, it probably is - but that doesn't mean you can't still sell it somebody. Just find stupider. They're out there. Otherwise, the "in the egg egg-scrambler" would never have been manufactured and sold.
Merry Christmas!

Anne R. Allen said...

That is totally true about Raoul. Watch out for his cousin Ramon, too. ;-) All of this is so true, whether you're writing comedy or not. But comedy thrives on stupid ideas.

Melodie Campbell said...

I'll leave Ramon to you, Anne. Somehow, I think Camilla might have met him :)

Melodie Campbell said...

I admit it - I have never heard of the 'in the egg egg-scrambler' and I'm thinking this is something I need to know! Can't even imagine. Eve, you made that up, right? (Merry Christmas!)

Eve Fisher said...

Melodie, I only WISH I'd made it up. Check out the original commercial for it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdonmCgg3lE

Amazing...

Barb Goffman said...

Fun post, Mel. And I learned a new word too: bathos. So that makes my day complete. Happy Festivus! Let the Feats of Strength begin. (I've got a lot of problems with you people!)

Melodie Campbell said...

Barb, it takes a certain type of humour (possibly manic) to appreciate Festivus! Eh, sis?

Don Coffin said...

Well, your description sold me a book. Thanks a lot. Like I have nothing better to do with my time.

Come to think of it, I'm retired. I don't have anything better to do with my time...

Melodie Campbell said...

Don, I hope you enjoy it! I used to write stand-up, so the humour is rather...manic.