Dead people put on weight, it seems to me; both in their flesh and in our minds, they put on weight.
-- From Stephen King's novel Bag of Bones
At the end of my Laughing all the Way to the Morgue workshop at the Surrey conference I encouraged participants to email me with any questions they might have and I've decided to answer them on my blog this week.
TODAY'S QUESTION: If you crack jokes when you're writing about the dead, won't you get letters? Won't some people think it's in bad taste?
ANSWER: Is it in bad taste to crack jokes about the dead? At someone's funeral, yes! In fiction? Not so much. But my point during the workshop was that we should consider writing moments to lift the reader up and offer a glimmer of light after a particularly dark scene. I don't think a pie in the face or other slapstick humour is necessary but, in my opinion, sometimes morbidity mirth is necessary to move the plot forward and bring emotional depth to a story.
I used Stephen King's above quote in the workshop to illustrate how even the master of horror can offer a sad, poignant thought in one moment while discussing the death of his protagonist's wife and then offer relief and/or levity to the reader by contrasting that line further in the scene where he seems to wiggle his ears at the reader by writing, "...elementary, my dear Watson. My wife died getting a sunburn."
So write the dark stuff. Make 'em afraid and make 'em cry. But it's okay to give them a reprieve too.
Keep those questions coming :)
Reminder: At the end of the week I'll be having another draw to win an Advance Copy of Remains. You enter by signing up for my mailing list here. I won't spam you but you will receive occasional news about my book releases :)