Books, novellas, and short stories that can make readers laugh are always in high demand. After all, who doesn't like laughing? Some say it's the best medicine. But, as any stand-up comedian will tell you, comedy is hard.
Luckily, with the right premise, you can craft a funny story that will make readers hungry for more. And that's just what these funny writing prompts will help you do.
- Tips on using comedy in your writing.
- Some humorous books to read for inspiration.
- Funny creative writing prompts.
Table of contents
Tips for Funny Story Writing
Humor is subjective, so a funny story that gets one group of people laughing may not elicit so much as a smile from another group. That's okay. As a writer, it's important to know that not everyone will like your work. But with the tips below, you can position your comedic story (or scene) for the ultimate effect.
Know Your Genre
Humor shouldn't be relegated to only comedies. In fact, authors in all different genres use humor to enhance their stories. But before you start shoving jokes into your work in progress, consider the norms of your genre. What do other authors do? Do you even need comedy in your book? If so, how much?
Even works that are considered comedies aren't all jokes. There need to be peaks and valleys in your story. Because if you're trying to make the reader laugh all the time, they won't be able to catch their breath and settle in for another laughing fit.
Humor Through Character
One of the best ways to convey humor is through one of your point of view (POV) characters. Maybe your normally stoic main character has a funny habit of breaking the tension with an offhand remark or a silly phrase that he says at the most inopportune moments.
Likewise, you may create a whole character whose main purpose is comedic relief. This doesn't have to be a POV character, but it can be. An inside joke between two characters can also work well, provided the reader is in on the joke!
Keep Things Natural
Readers know when they're being played to. So if you're being funny just for the sake of it, they'll be able to tell. The humor in your novel or story should have something to do with plot, character development, or story. In other words, comedy should arise naturally from the aspects of your story.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to make readers laugh, but forcing it will often backfire.
Make it Relatable
Most successful stand-up comedians make the mundane hilarious. They take the doldrums of everyday life and provide a new perspective or spin on them. This also works well in storytelling. Sometimes the funniest thing is the one that makes people go, “Oh yeah, it is like that!”
Whether it be observations about social media, a popular book or TV show, or a twist on the daily grind, it's possible to find comedy all around us.
Read Humorous Books
You can't expect to sharpen your comedy writing skills without first seeing how other authors do it. The books below are just a few to consider when studying the craft of comedic writing.
- Anything by Christopher Moore (fiction).
- Anything by David Sedaris (memoir).
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
- Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
- Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Funny Writing Prompts
Pick a funny writing prompt from the list below to get the creative juices flowing. Since there's a wide range of uses for comedy across all genres, not every prompt below will be suitable for an entire novel. Some are designed to start off a scene or a short story. Others you can use to break through writer's block by writing a poem or a funny anecdote. Do with them whatever you will. They're yours to use freely!
1. Write a scene in which a man is arguing with some unseen character. At the end, it turns out it's his dog. What is the conversation like? Why is it happening?
2. Think about your favorite thing to do on vacation. Now write about a character who's stuck doing that thing over and over again in a time loop.
3. Start a story about two hitmen haggling over who gets to assassinate the known crime lord.
4. What would happen if animals could talk to humans? If this was normal, what would the world be like?
5. Explore the implications of a modern high school student who finds him or herself alive before the internet was invented.
6. Start a story in the middle of a bank robbery in progress. But the robbers are elderly men who can't stop bickering.
7. What would happen if a demon invaded the body of a highly neurotic and eccentric person? Turns out, the demon inside the person allows them to live how they always wanted, but the demon wants to leave.
8. Write a romance about two people who connect over their shared love of extreme ironing.
9. Explore the world of a stunt woman. She continues to put her body on the line for the work, but inside she thinks she's the biggest wimp in the world.
10. In a world of superheroes, the villains have their own support groups where you get to see a very different side of them. Turns out, the villains may not be the real villains of this story. . .
11. A new drug hits the market that makes everyone happy. Unfortunately, your protagonist is happiest when she's miserable. What does this new “happy” world look like through his eyes?
12. A young man suddenly becomes a viral sensation for his comedy routine. But the sudden fame is more than he can handle. Much more.
13. Write about a local neighborhood watch group filled with zany characters who must solve the mystery of the missing garden gnomes.
14. Write about a supervillain's parents. What are they like? Are they proud of their son or daughter?
15. Write about a high school student who learns she can disappear whenever something really embarrassing happens to her. Does she use this newfound power for good or bad?
16. Your protagonist stumbles upon proof that we live in a simulation. How does this change his outlook and actions? Does he try to tell the world?
17. Explore two best friends who are participating in an ongoing prank war that's getting way out of hand.
18. Start your story with an argument between two rival business owners who eventually become fast friends.
19. Follow a protagonist who goes outside one day to find that everyone is naked—and looking at her like she's the crazy one.
20. Start your story with a character successfully outwitting Death to stay alive for just a bit longer.
21. Write about a doomsday prepper who prepares for every eventuality . . . but this one.
22. Write about a character who thinks their television is talking to them by name.
23. Write about a wedding in which everything goes comically wrong—and how the wedding party rallies to make things okay in the end.
24. Write about a utility worker who stumbles on an underground society of mutants in the city sewers.
25. Write about a group of friends who get together once a year to fight each other. Why do they do it? What do they get out of this strange fight club?
26. Start a story in which a character is trying to reenact something they've seen on YouTube – with hilarious consequences.
27. A bumbling father takes it upon himself to deal with the petty crime in his neighborhood. But he stumbles upon a hilarious conspiracy enacted by the homeowners association.
28. A professional athlete starts having terrible luck, both on and off the field. He does everything he can think of to break the bad streak.
29. A billionaire CEO decides after a near-death experience to give all his money away. But there are a whole bunch of people who do whatever they can to convince him otherwise.
30. A woman who's about to be married to an “okay” guy finds a love letter in the mailbox. It has been mailed to her by mistake, and she takes it upon herself to deliver it to the real recipient.
31. Write about a group of scammers getting into a con war with another group of scammers.
32. A group of vampires goes on vacation only to find that their arch-enemies the werewolves have laid claim to their favorite spot.
33. Artificial Intelligence robots are rolled out, but a software glitch makes them act like bumbling idiots who inadvertently threaten the collapse of society.
34. There's something wrong with the world. Something's just a little off. But your character can't quite figure out what it is.
35. Explore what it's like at a national liars convention.
36. A girl realizes she's in a horror movie. But she also knows that she's not the final girl—she's one who dies in the first half!
37. A group of cowboys on a cattle drive in the 1800s wind up getting attacked by bumbling aliens.
38. Write about a wildlife television show host who's constantly getting attacked by animals.
39. Write a time travel story in which the character keeps trying to fix her love life only to keep getting thwarted—by herself.
40. Write about a 4th-grade teacher who wins the lottery and decides to retire. But then her class shows up and begs her to come back to teach them.
41. Explore a character who can't help but dance every time her favorite song comes on. She lives in perpetual fear of hearing the song while in public.
42. An irresponsible man ends up having to take care of his five nephews and nieces after tragedy strikes. He learns to be responsible very quickly.
43. A woman obsessed with American 1970s culture gets the chance to travel back in time.
44. A man gets a hilarious text message from a random number. Thinking it a clever salesperson, he goes along with the messages. But things soon get way out of control.
45. After being told, rather rudely, that he tells the same stories over and over again, a man drops everything and goes on an adventure to get some new stories to tell his friends and family.
46. The utterance of a random word makes a brainwashed secret agent go into assassin mode. Only she turns out to be the worst assassin ever.
47. A woman who thinks she has the best idea for a new product quits her job in spectacular fashion, only to learn that someone else has already had the idea.
48. Write an embarrassing poem from one of your characters’ point of view. Why did they write the poem? What did they write it about? What would happen if someone happened upon it?
49. Write a spoof of The War of the Worlds in which the aliens all develop terrible allergies, which only makes things worse for the humans.
50. Write a few diary or journal prompts for your main character from when they were a teenager. (If they are a teenager, all the better). Make sure to add some cringe to the entries!
Hopefully, the creative writing ideas above have given you some inspiration to use for your next book or short story. You can even take inspiration from a funny joke, your favorite book, or a funny thing you saw on YouTube. Professional writers will tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that really makes something shine. So pick a fun writing prompt and get to work!
Test Your Funny Book Idea
When you're ready to take your writing career forward by publishing your book, it's a good idea to ensure there's a market for your story. And the easiest way to do this is with Publisher Rocket.
You can think of the information you get from Publisher Rocket as the foundation for your writing career—whether you write comedy, drama, horror, or more than one genre.
With Publisher Rocket, you get insights directly from Amazon on:
- Keywords – Metadata to position your book on Amazon.
- Competition – Allowing you to see what's selling and how stiff the competition is.
- Categories – So you know where people who are looking for books like yours go to find them.
- Amazon Ads – Helps you quickly configure a list of profitable keywords for running ads.
Check out Publisher Rocket here to get started.