Post 30

Author: Nola Published: about 5 years ago
Tags: humour, funny, comedy, puns, cliches, similes, metaphors, titles Category: Writing tips

Humour Techniques Part 2: Stringing Them Along

Did you try your spand at some hoonerisms from last week? Let’s string that along further to phrases, sentences, and titles that add a humorous tone to your tome.

Similes and Metaphors

Humorous similes and metaphors can be used to liken one thing to another. Imagine two of your characters are waiting to greet the minister after a church service. Precocious 11-year-old chemist Flavia de Luce describes it this way in The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley:

“Aunt Felicity and Dogger … were still penned up somewhere inside the vestibule, queuing like crewmen on a sunken submarine for their turn at the escape hatch.”

It creates a much different impression than if they were in a checkout queue or waiting for a bus. You can almost feel their desperation.

Metaphors can also be extended for several lines or a whole passage. In his poem The Warmth and Itch of Scarves, Cameron Semmens compares his conscience to an old lady sitting in the back of his mind knitting. Every time he does something wrong, “she starts knitting furiously” until the scarves “tickle and itch and demand adjustment”.

Clichés and Puns

Writers are told to avoid clichés. However, they can be used for humorous effect if you provide a spin on the familiar. Courtney Carpenter notes that you can use “a cliché to set the audience’s train of thought in motion” and then derail it by changing direction at the last moment. Instead of “children should be seen and not heard” you could have “children should make a scene and be heard”. Instead of “all’s fair in love and war” you could have “all’s fair in love and karaoke”. Here’s a list of clichés to get you started.

Puns can provide a similar payoff by “exploiting the different possible meanings of a word” or similar sounding words ( For example, “Guitarist’s peace campaign strikes a chord”. Here’s a list of puns to make you laugh (or cringe).

You might want to use clichés and puns sparingly as they can be corny, especially if the writer is a corn farmer. Ha ha … get it? Corn farmer. Mmm … you see what I mean!


Funny titles can provide a good hook for reeling in your reader. Which book would you be more likely to buy? What to Do When Feeling Stressed or Just Hand over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt? Karen Scalf Linamen had a hit with the second one. Although dealing with a serious topic, the title lets you know that it’s going to be told with some humour and lightness. Of course if you’re going to have a title like that, you need to follow through. People might pick up your book or article because the title grabbed them, but they won’t keep reading if the title misrepresents the mood or the content.

What types of titles or lines tickle your funny bone? As Kaden Stringer would say, I’m sure your eggcellent eggsamples with be a crack up.

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