Are You Having Fun?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I came across a quote from Ed Emberley, an American artist, author and illustrator of children’s books:

I am determined to have fun doing my work… if I’m enjoying myself then that feeling is passed on to the reader.”


It chimed in with my latest writing project, the sixth story in The Cornish Detective series, which I’m having fun with, as I’m creating it in disconnected chunks. Keeping a series fresh is a challenge, so this unconventional way of forming a plot is preventing me from falling into old routines.

We discussed whether writing makes us happy in an old thread:

Perhaps fun is transitory, happiness short-lived while contentment is the ideal state. It’s no bad thing to amuse yourself. I favour situational humour. I wrote a chapter last week, in which my protagonist gets swept out to sea while attempting to improve his stamina after being injured. At the same time, two of his detectives are discussing their exercise regimes, praising their boss for being proactive with his wild swimming and looking fitter for it. It’s not laugh-out-loud comedy, but as it made me smile, it may entertain the reader.

Are you having fun, yet?



I find it difficult to write anything without injecting some humour, mainly because that's what I enjoy as a reader. Not out-and-out comedy, but skilfully-executed moments of levity and witty observations or dialogue always increase my enjoyment.

That's whey I enjoy Kate Atkinson's novels so much, for example. There is always humour running through them, characters with a sense of fun. I recently read Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles and although epic fantasy isn't a place you tend to expect to find much in the way of comedy, I liked that there are some great chuckly moments which Rothfuss clearly enjoyed including. I get the impression Louis de Bernieres has a lot of fun with his characters, too — he has a very deft way with comedy, even though his stories are often set during times of drama, crisis and tragedy.

The YA psychodrama I'm currently writing has many threads of darkness running through it (as you'd expect from that type of tale), but the MC is witty and when she interacts with one other character in particular, I seem to enter script-writing mode with loads of wise-cracking. Maybe I'm being self-indulgent, but I can't help thinking if the writing is fun for me, hopefully it will also entertain my readers...
There is a generally millenarian thing going on in the culture at the moment, and it seems to me that most current bestsellers have a terribly bleak view of human nature -and no laughs at all!
I wonder if that's why Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine has been such a phenomenon. It's funny and warm.
I wonder if that's why Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine has been such a phenomenon. It's funny and warm.

You've picked up on something the publishing market is also finding. During this pre-apocalyptic era we seem to be in (I hope not, but that's the way it feels), many readers are indeed going for heartwarming fiction.

It's called Up Lit or uplifting literature.

Article about it here.
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