I’m currently working on the second book in my Touched by a Demon series, The Demon’s in the Details.
So far I’m liking it. (Which is good, because that is not always the case.)
One thing that I suspect isn’t so good are the jokes I’m writing into it.
Some of you are now thinking, “Jokes are good. And Jeanne’s pretty funny, so they’re probably good jokes.”
These jokes are really goofy. They take a dopey premise (the physical act of a demon possessing a human–have you ever given any thought to just what that choreography would look like?) and wring every last drop of comedy gold (and silver and copper and tin and lead and that grody stuff you have to scrape from the the crack between the stove and the countertop) out of it before I let it go.
When I hand the book over to my beta readers, they are going to ask me, probably unanimously, “Why is this crap in here?”
Um, because it’s funny?
No, they will assure me, it isn’t. The first time was mildly humorous. The next fifty iterations under varying plot conditions definitely weren’t. And the last hundred made us want to punch you in the face.
And I will believe them, because they’ve been my beta readers for a very long time and are generally on the money with their critiques. And I’ll edit out all those really-not-that-funny jokes.
So why, you ask, am I putting them in in the first place?
1) It just seems to be something I have to get out of my system. For whatever reason, I can’t ever let them go until someone tells me, “Jeanne, they’re Not Funny.”
In the last, book, there was this absolutely hilarious joke about the demon coming Aboveworld (Hell’s term for Earth) in a kind of animated mannequin body. Said body was equipped with an enormous penis. It was a send-up of that romance trope where the guy is always well-endowed. The joke was touched upon throughout the book, cracking me up with every reference.
Right up until my first beta reader said, “Why does he have to use a mannequin body? What’s wrong with his own body?” And I realized there was absolutely no reason for it, other than to set up the joke. I removed the references and never looked back.
2) What else are beta readers for?
If you’re truly listening to the Girls in the Attic (Jenny Crusie’s term for one’s writing muses, comparable to Stephen King’s Boys in the Basement) you’re going to put a lot of stuff in your first draft that doesn’t necessarily fit with the finished story. By the time you’ve written three or four hundred pages, you won’t necessarily be able to tell what belongs and what doesn’t.
At least, that’s true for me. I find it really tough to tell what belongs on the page and what’s just back story that needs to remain as subtext. My beta readers are great at telling me what works and what doesn’t, what needs to be clearer, what needs to be more subtle.
But mostly I just have to get it out of my system.