Posted by: nancycurteman | August 26, 2011

6 Ways to Add Humor to a Mystery Novel

Bookmark and Share

Killer IdeasNo matter how serious a mystery story may be, spicing it with a bit of humor can make it a better read. You, the author can decide where, when and how much humor to add. Here are some ways to insert humor into your mystery novel.

1. Dialogue is a quick and easy way to pop in funny lines. Add
• understatement
• Disrespectful remarks in internal dialogue while professing respectful interest in what another character is saying: Mary flashed an interested smile and nodded in agreement while thinking his brain would fit well in a Dodo bird’s head.
• Smart remarks between two characters

2. Descriptions of people, places or events are another quick way to add humor.
• Her hair looked like she combed it with an eggbeater.
• An old outhouse would smell better than that kid’s bedroom.
• Comment: He’s acting like an idiot. Reply: He’s not acting.

3. Situational humor is a great vehicle to use to add funny scenes. Consider character actions observed by a person who is not party to what has actually happened and who interprets those actions from another perspective.

4. Unexpected sequence of events can be hilarious
Charlie Chaplin’s classic description is a great example of unexpected sequence of events: A woman walks down the street directly toward a banana peel on the sidewalk. Instead of slipping on the banana peel, the woman jumps over it but falls into an open manhole on the other side.

5. Uncomfortable situations are funny because most of us have faced one at some time or another.
• Sally’s boss smiled with indulgent affection while her cat purred on Sally’s lap. Sally smiled back through clogged sinuses and allergic tears all the time wishing she could send the hairy beast sailing into space.

6. Inappropriate statements are always good for a laugh
Jimmy grinned at Aunt June. “Mommy says you got a butt like a bale of hay.”

Most important, authors should have fun being funny.

More writing tips:

How to Add Humor to Your Mystery Novel


  1. Thanks, Nancy.


  2. It’s funny you should bring this up…


  3. Life . . . and its mysteries . . . are better with laughter. 😀


    • Great philosophy.


  4. Some great ideas & suggestions! Especially loved the egg-beater combed hair, may be what I look like some days! 🙂


    • Julia,
      I visited your site. Great post questioning a writers feelings when a fellow writer receives acclaim. This does require a little soul searching. I’ve added you to my blog roll.


  5. Your thoughts on dialog are right on. Another way that dialog can convey humor is through the use of unexpected terminology or dialect. When my 85 year-old protagonist talks about his “peeps” or how he goes “clubbing,” readers are getting an unexpected glimpse of humor.

    William Doonan


    • William, I like your comment about using unexpected terminology to add humor. “Clubbing” is a kick. I went to Amazon and requested they
      distribute your mysteries on Kindle as well as print. So many of my book club friends are reading a large percentage of books on Kindle.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: