So yesterday I talked a bit about romance and whether or not it needed to be in stories. The obvious answer was "it depends," but there's a lot of subtlety to deciding when that moment is appropriate. I have nothing against romance and I make sure that when it should be in, it's in. But you know, there's something else that's just as important, at least for me: comedy.
Whether it's just a light-hearted chuckle moment or some full on slapstick, there's something about adding a giggle to your work that helps the entire thing just feel more complete. The human experience isn't all misery and drama. Marvel has been capitalizing on this concept for almost a decade now with the MCU. Seriously, here's your excuse to go rewatch a bunch of them. After every hard-hitting moment, they hit you with a joke, just to keep things from getting too deep. Well... most of the time, spoiler warning. Gah... I don't feel so good Mister Stark...
So, is there comedy in The Paladin. Oh, you bet your sweet bippy there is. Is The Paladin a comedy or a spoof? No. I mean, not really. It's certainly not intended to be that way. Seriously, there are some dark, heavy moments in this novel. But there are also light moments to make you laugh. Why? Because even in a world of vampires and werewolves and demons, not everything is somber and depressing. People are surprisingly adaptive creatures and we crave stimulation and entertainment. Even in the darkest of places, you will find humor. Even if it's gallows humor.
So when is humor appropriate in a novel? My cop out answer is anytime it makes sense. For me, I just let my characters decide. I play out the scenario in my head and if Reagan makes a joke, I let it stay in the novel. If Jonathan misunderstands something in a humorous way, it goes. Yeah, I'm anthropomorphizing fictional characters, but sometimes... I mean... that's what it feels like. Let it play out in your mind.
Obviously, if humor would seriously kill the mood you're looking for, don't do it. Furthermore, if you're not exactly known for being a stand up comedian, maybe run the idea past a few people before you commit it to paper. Everyone has a different sense of humor and things can get weird if you try to insist something's funny.
But beyond all that? C'mon man, just relax and have fun with it. A good writer knows when something feels appropriate. It's in their gut. Or their butt. Whichever is funnier at the moment.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.