Humor and Character Development

Writing a character tends to be a pretty heavy business.  It’s really easy to get a character totally absorbed with self and of course that makes them about as interesting as a faucet dripping.  The human element is what makes the character interesting.  One of the best ways to do that is to use humor.

In the Lawman, there’s a scene where Will, his wife, his pastor and his wife are all sitting in the middle of meadow.  Will has been counseling with his pastor, and this is a rather unofficial counseling session.  Here’s the piece where humor toss light on a secondary character, and elevates her from a secondary to a primary character  Here’s the exchange:

“But it does,” I said. “If I was killed out and out, the hunt for my killers would go on and on.  Blowing out my windshield just ends up an unsolved case.  If they scare me off, they’ve managed to get rid of me anyway, and without the heat.”

     Everyone was quiet for a second.  I looked out over the meadow, watching the kids sneaking up on the small stream to cast their worm baited hook into.  If they caught enough, there just might be trout for dinner tonight.

    Finally, I said.  “I’m still trying to figure out why they think I’m such a threat.  Who do they think I am?  Batman?”

    Pastor Morgan smiled and said, “Obviously.”

     I looked over at Jewell and smiled.  “I reckon that makes you Batgirl.”

    She shook her head, and a sly smile played on the corner of her lips.  “Nope,” she said.  “I’m Wonder Woman.”

     “Wonder Woman!”

     She let the smile out.  “Yep, she’s smarter and a million times badder than Batgirl, and a heck of a lot hotter!”

     I fell over on my back laughing.  Leave it to the love of my life to take a serious situation and inject some humor into it.  I had to admit, she was definitely right.  Jewell was probably tougher than Batgirl, and could give Linda Carter a run for her money in the looks department.

I was always looking for a way to make her sassier, and the opportunity presented itself.  It also set her up to be a major player in the next several novels.

Humor also works for the primary characters.  Will has a devilish sense of humor, but it hides a lot of pain.  Like Hawkeye did in M.A.S.H., humor is the shield he uses to protect himself.  And because he is vulnerable, and hides behind it while still dealing with the world.  It makes the character human.