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The Process of Editing Comedy In 5 Steps

comedy editingWriting is rewriting, or so the old saying goes. But writing is also editing. When we write a piece of fiction, we subject it to constant, numerous edits until we are satisfied with the end result. One of the reasons why some novels take years to write is indeed due to editing. A first draft is simply the bare bones; professional book editing is when the magic happens. But, unlike a magical trick, this particular sprinkling of magic takes much, much longer.

When writing a comedy book, the writer can have a lot of fun. After all, it’s when the jokes are created, amusing scenarios are explored, and grandma gets kidnapped by vampires (wouldn’t that be hilarious?). Writer’s can have a jolly good chuckle to themselves as they write their book.

Comedy editing, then, would appear to the moment the laughter dies. Instead of writing jokes, the editor has to remove jokes. Instead of grandma being kidnapped by vampires, the editor has to remind himself that vamps do not even exist.

But actually, editing comedy is probably one of the most fun things to do. You get to tweak the jokes, refine the humour, and even improve the silliness. That’s not to suggest that comedy editing is fun all the time – there is work to be done – but because the fundamental purpose of comedy is to make people laugh, editing comedy comes with its own moments of pleasure. The trick is not make sure editing comedy doesn’t make you cry. That would be far too ironic.

Let’s take a look at the process of editing comedy in 5 steps.

Check The Grammar

Whether you’re editing comedy, story editing or editing a romance, grammar is paramount, and it’s often the first place to begin. An easy way of correcting parts of your grammar is by putting the book through a computerised spell check. There are also online programmes that can help with other issues, such as syntax.

But it’s the nature of comedy to be irreverent. Many comedy writers like to play with language, invent new words and phrases, and play on words. This ultimately means that where you think there is a grammar mistake, the writer might insist they’re expressing artistic creativity. When editing comedy, it is therefore imperative that you consult with the author when it comes to language and grammar.

 Check The Voice Of The Writer

 When carrying out comedy editing, it’s important that the tone of the book is consistent – and particularly consistently funny. Comedy writing – more than most genres – requires the words to flow. When editing comedy, if you happen upon phrases and sentences that are far too awkward, consider reworking them. People read comedy to be left with a good feeling. More than anything, the voice has to be humorous and engaging throughout. If you notice too many pages that are bleak and humourless, you’ll need to do some reworking.

Check The Story

 When writing a story, it’s not always easy to get the plot fully fleshed out the first time around. There may be plot holes, unresolved sub-plots, under-developed characters, as well as gaps in logic. When performing a thorough check of the story, the plots and the characters, it’s important to always bear in  mind the particular genre of comedy you’re editing. Ask yourself if its a slapstick, a farce, a black comedy, or even a satire? Once you know the genre, editing comedy will be easier. For example, in a slapstick, it’s far more common to have gaps in logic than in a comedy-drama.

Make Sure It’s Funny!

Naturally, it’s hugely important for a piece of comedy writing to be funny. If a comedy doesn’t make people laugh, it hasn’t been a success. When carrying out comedy editing, you need to always be on the lookout for the parts that are funny, and the parts that are meant to be funny – but which fall flat. More importantly, you can always look for ways to extend the humour, to draw a joke out, and to make situations even funnier. If you feel that the comedy could be improved, this is the time to do it.

Check The Grammar

Before any book is signed off, it’s imperative that the grammar is checked once more. This means there is no chance of it going to print with a few mistakes.

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