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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Humour in a dark story



“Dark” is a good word for rather sombre, thought-provoking stories – just a “light” in this context means something that is warm and sunny but also something that  has a gentle touch. These two words work rather well together in the context of prose fiction because often depth is given to a story by including both rather like light and shade make a picture more three-dimensional. Have you ever noticed the darker, sober moment, perhaps a moment of pathos in a good sitcom? It usually comes at that Golden Segment point which is between two thirds and four fifths but never exactly three quarters of the way through. Without it, the sitcom doesn’t quite work.
In a darker story we need a streak of light. When I wrote Nick’s Gallery now republished as A Gallery forNick, the story about Barney coming to terms with the death of his best friend, I worried about my character Cynthia who is a bit of a punk and quite comical with it. I introduced her to my critique group and my writing teacher and the reaction was unanimous: everyone wanted more of her. Now, I can’t believe I ever thought she wasn’t appropriate.
I’ve just written a scene “stolen” from The House on Schellberg Street. I’m showing several of the same scenes included there, but from Clara’s point of view. Throughout Clara is shown as good-hearted and with a sharp sense of humour. Here, though she excels.
·         Whilst pretending to be the mother of the German man who has bought her house she claims that the Jewish woman who used to live there had excellent taste.
·         She says “Heil  Edler” instead of “Heil Hitler”
·         She says it is very sensible that her own name has been changed to Klara Sarah Lehrs.
·         She claims that the money her son gave to the Jewish lady was very fair.
·         When Hani, the young girl who helps in the house form time to time comes out with “Oh bugger old Fury-Chops.”, meaning Hitler of course, she laughs uncontrollably and decides form then onwards she will call him the same.
For the reader, hopefully, much of the humour comes from the way the SS officer constantly “puts his foot in it”.
Interestingly this comes at about 70,000 words. The novel / biography will be about 100,000 words.     

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