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Ouch, that’s funny!

June 8, 2011 by in category Blogs with 0 and 0
Home > Writing > Blogs > Ouch, that’s funny!

One of the “rules” of fiction is that the main character must have a problem. Because if his or her life is all sweetness-and-light…well, put it this way: I’m sure living a life like that is great, but I don’t want to read about it.
It’s far more interesting to read about lives gone wrong.

But, in my opinion, not too wrong. My preference, as a reader and a writer, is for things to go wrong in a way that makes me laugh. Not so much, “Oh, gosh, how awful,” as, “Oh, gosh, how awful…(snicker).” Not that I’m unsympathetic (at least, only a little), but I love fictional situations that make me wince as I wonder, “How the heck is she going to get herself out of that one?”

Usually, the character has brought the trouble on herself / himself, and while it’s amusing, it’s generally a symptom of a deeper problem. So there’s meaty stuff in there, but I get to smile as I worry.

Check out these sticky situations that start some of my favorite romances.

– Heroine blabs to the world about her massive crush on the new guy in town…then discovers he’s a Catholic priest (Catch of the Day, by Kristan Higgins)

– Identical twin swaps places with her sister, and…yikes!! (I can’t say any more about this because it won’t be out until August and I don’t want to ruin the surprise…but it’s cool! Stand-In Wife, by Karina Bliss)

– Genius scientist wants a dumb jock to father her baby. She disguises herself and cons a football star into getting her pregnant…turns out he’s not so dumb, and he’s mad (Nobody’s Baby but Mine, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

– Heroine with a reputation for “stalking” the hero as a lovestruck teen is caught—you guessed it—peering in his window on her first night back in town (Falling for Gracie, by Susan Mallery)
See what I mean? Each of these women brought her problem on herself, and while I’m truly sorry for her and hoping she can fix it, I’m also laughing.

My own books have included a couple funny-painful (as opposed to painfully funny) situations:

– Heroine dupes her boyfriend into appearing on a surprise wedding reality show, and he dumps her on live TV (Married by Mistake, currently available free from www.tryharlequin.com)

– A beauty queen about to miss out on a job because she “lacks gravitas” tells the employer she’s engaged to the hero, a political heavyweight. Only trouble is, he hates her… (Her So-Called Fiance)

My new Superromance, Her Best Friend’s Wedding, out this month, also has an “ouch!” premise. Geeky biologist Sadie Beecham tells her family she’s the bringing the man of her dreams home to meet them…then he falls in love with her best friend…ouch!

What’s a girl to do? As far as Sadie’s concerned, it’s simple: she has to stop the wedding. Too bad the bride’s brother sees things differently…

I’d love to see your recommendations on books with the kind of funny-painful setup that I like. Or your comments about the kind of story setup you prefer: tense, dramatic, scary, sad…

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