If you want a literary agent, mine the humor in your life story, like Carrie Fisher does in "Wishful Drinking."
In my interviews with publishing professionals, one thing has come across loud and clear: You can make literary agents and editors take a chance on you if you’re funny.
So even if you’re writing a serious account about your life, you have to mine the humor in it. There’s always something funny.
Carrie Fisher’s new book, Wishful Drinking, is about recollecting the memories she lost through electroshock therapy, which she went through voluntarily to beat depression.
Nonetheless, she had me laughing so loudly in just the first chapter, they almost kicked me out of Borders.
When one of my clients read me her pitch for her screenplay and her novel, it came across,it came across as too sanctimonious.
Though her book is about a very difficult personal challenge, some of the relationships in it reminded me of Driving Miss Daisy. Plus there were elements to her story that reminded me of Three Men and a Baby.
So I asked her to look at her pitch again. This time, though, I told her to imagine the people in her life story as being played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Brendan Fraser, and Bette Midler.
She immediately understood how her pitch could be more light-hearted.
Just because something’s serious doesn’t mean there isn’t comedy in it.
I was once in an acting class where a guy was doing a monologue from a play called The Strongest Man in the World. He read every line like the toughest guy you can find.
The teacher asked him to recite the monologue again, only this time, to say the line as though he was the queeniest gay guy in San Francisco.
He did it, and it was brilliant, because he found all the humor and sarcasm that he had missed the first time. After that reading, he took what he discovered and blended into his original interpretation.
So whatever you’re writing, particularly if it’s serious, sit back and imagine that the people in it are played in it are played by whoever makes you laugh. For me, that’s Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston.
I guarantee you’ll see your work in a whole new light.