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Written Humour, 1936 p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give a few samples from interesting old books. Usually they’re out of print and sometimes forgotten, but they still have a lot of juice left in them. 

Written Humour, by A. A. Thomson, was published in 1936, when there were a lot of humor magazines around. 

He writes: modern life has brought in its train increased anxiety and strain. The tempo is one of hurry and bustle, so that, more than any other period of history, the public mind longs for a quiet respite amid the cares and exasperating pressure of the workaday world. Thus the gift of laughter, always a rare and precious thing, is to-day doubly precious. 

But he says the world is more critical and more sophisticated. And the quality in humor that matters most is freshness.

He describes humorous short stories. He says the plot is the scaffolding of the short story.

He writes: Personally, I have always found it convenient to visualise the bare bones of the plot as though they formed the three acts of a miniature comedy.

Act One introduces the main characters and places them in some amusing and unusual situation.

Act Two unfolds the problems, showing the efforts fo the characters to extricate themselves from the first situation – efforts which probably involve them in further and even more complicated situations.

Act Three gives the problem its happy solution, preferably by unexpected means.

He said the story must end with the “snap” of surprise.


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