Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions - A is for Amusement (writing discussion & fiction)

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & ReactionsAmusement Emoticon









This year for the A to Z Challenge, I'm investigating emotions and reactions and their use in writing. So, I'll be talking about my first thoughts as a writer when I think about the words we use to describe emotions and my experience of their use in literature and film/TV.

Before I start my post, I'd just like to say well done and thank you to everyone who has been working for months to organise the AtoZ, you are all stars!

amusement
amusement: the state or experience of finding something funny.

When we say someone is amused, it can cover a wide range of reactions, everything from a slight smile to a huge great guffaw. However, when I think of amusement, I am always drawn to the saying attributed to Queen Victoria, ‘We are not amused.’ That then makes me think of Victorian politeness, and, therefore, amusement to me, in my first instinct, is a polite, gentle thing, a smile, or a light chuckle. 

Still, in the hands of a writer, amusement can be kind, or cruel; reserved, or free-form; solitary, or something for a large group. It entirely depends on the characters. Amusement for the likes of Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice was, in company at least, on the reserved side, even if her wit, like her creator’s, could be biting.  Young, foolish Lydia, on the other hand, wore her emotions on her sleeve, and her amusement, mostly witless, was obvious and demonstrative, a giggle, a shared indiscretion even. 

Of course, the aim of every writer is to keep their readers amused, in the other sense of the word, as in making sure they are ‘entertained’. Outside of just making readers laugh, I think that amusement between characters can be used to build relationships, in, say, the sharing of a joke to find common ground, or the reverse, when humour is not shared, the dynamic can be even more interesting. Such moments can be used as learning experiences for characters, or as a way to contrast the differences between them. Humour may even be the last resort for a situation, the laugh, or cry scenario, something to bring a light moment in the midst of a dark plot, bringing some relief for both readers and characters.

In short, amusement is a very versatile reaction. :)

QUESTION: So, what makes you laugh, or just smile when you're reading?

~

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48 comments:

  1. It's funny, while reading this, I knew amusement could cover a whole range, but it never dawned on me how big that range was.

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    1. I didn't really appreciate that until I started thinking about this post :)

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  2. Amusement is a wide range, but I feel it helps readers relate to every aspect of a story. As for what makes me smile or laugh when reading I have to say it's when a character uses a witty comment right in the middle of an argument. It truly does amuse me to see just aggravation or anger can make someone show their true snarky side.

    Great starting to the A to Z April Blogging Challenge

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    1. There are some characters who have the pithy remark down pat - the Dowager Countess a.k.a. Maggie Smith is perfect for that in Downton Abbey :)

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  3. Terry Pratchett always makes me laugh out loud when I read his books and there are many books that simply make me smile - parts of the Belgariad, especially involving C'Nedra and Belgarion always make me grin.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. It was always embarrassing reading Pratchet on the train, because his books do create great guttural snorts sometimes :)

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  4. I'm more likely to laugh if the author isn't trying too hard to make me laugh.

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    1. Isn't that the thing about comedy - when we try too hard it just doesn't work! :)

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  5. I don't usually laugh out loud at books (nor TV shows or movies for that matter--I have a very distinct sense of humor) but I find myself amused often. There's definitely a difference but it's hard to pinpoint.

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    1. I've heard told that it's easier to laugh at something if you're in a group. I don't laugh out loud a lot when I'm on my own (which is why Terry Pratchet's books were so unusual), but I do laugh more in a group. Sometimes if I'm watching something with my Dad, we both end up crying with laughter - Life of Brian does this every time :)

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  6. I love laugh-out-loud moments when I'm reading a book. Great topic for A :)

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    1. Terry Pratchet has had me crying with laughter :)

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  7. I am writing on Emotions and Feelings too. You are exploring an emotion so beautifully and in detail. Wish I could read your posts before writing my stories in 55 words! :D
    Wit and humour always amuses me and funny and awkward scenes too :)

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    1. I stopped by your blog - loved the 55 word story - you have an even tougher challenge than a drabble, which is 100 words :)

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  8. Well, this post made me smile, so that answers the question. ;) Specifically where you mentioned moments where humor is not shared. I love moments like that. It can create quite an awkward dynamic, which, for some reason, I find delightfully entertaining.

    A great post to start off the challenge, Sophie. :)

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    1. I've been watching a show called The Mysteries of Laura, and they do that kind of thing so well :)

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  9. Good theme, Sophie! Amusement does come in many forms, and we should explore them all in our writing.

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    1. So much to play with in our writing with amusement :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Amusement makes me think of confidence. A lot of times characters in books are amused when they don't feel threatened, or don't take someone or something seriously. Or maybe I am just a cynical person :)
    Happy A to Z!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

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    1. You make a good point there - you get it a lot in James Bond etc when the villain thinks he's in control :)

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  11. My characters are often amused at each other. When I'm reading. I laugh at something a character says or does. I always enjoy those moments. :)

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    1. I like it when the smile, or laugh is unexpected, maybe lightening a heavy mood.

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  12. My characters are often amused at each other. When I'm reading. I laugh at something a character says or does. I always enjoy those moments. :)

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  13. Its funny with that comment "We are not amused" by the queen :) When I think of amused the first thought comes to my mind of amusement parks, LOL. When I'm reading a book, I get amused with the antics of children :)

    betty

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    1. I hadn't thought of amusement parks!

      Children can be the source of much amusement :)

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  14. I still love Lizzy Bennet's wit. To me she will always be one of the most amusing characters.

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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    1. Lizzy is a truly great character :)

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  15. Quoting you :) "I think that amusement between characters can be used to build relationships, in, say, the sharing of a joke to find common ground, or the reverse, when humour is not shared, the dynamic can be even more interesting." Nice Sophie! Love the depth of your insight. Usually feel amused when characters discover themselves bonding with someone they thought they didn't like at all. There is a sigh, an aha moment. :) See you tomorrow

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    1. That's the classic start to any buddy movies - the first one of those I saw was Lethal Weapon back in the 80's :)

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  16. I tend to like dark comedy, though it has to be done well and appropriately. I also love physical comedy, and deliberately over the top, ridiculous situations which are so unrealistic as to be funny.

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    1. When I was a kid, they used to run a programme during the children's programmes after school of clips from black and white silent comedies, and I always used to giggle away at the slapstick OTT action :)

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  17. I never thought about this, but it's so true. This post made me think about something in a different way, and I appreciate it.

    Fantastic first post!

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    1. Glad you got something out of it. :)

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  18. I usually laugh at a scene or a funny comment. It makes the reading more enjoyable for sure. :)

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    1. I don't often read straight out comedies, but it is great when a scene or a moment makes me smile.

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  19. The little things tend to amuse me the most. :)

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  20. What a great breakdown of the word 'amusement' - you certainly present all its possibilities. I learned something from it all… and that's a good thing. :)

    Until B - have fun, and enjoy this A to Z Challenge.

    Jenny, Pearson Report
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador
    @PearsonReport

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    1. I'm happy you got something from my post :)

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  21. We need some amusement in writing / reading if only to break up tense moments.
    Hope you have a great month - looks like you will be busy.
    <a href="http://moondustwriter.com/a-to-z-challenge-2015/a-steve/>Moondustwriter</a>

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    1. That is so right - if everything in a plot is tense it can be very tiring to read :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  22. That's a pretty comprehensive look at it. Yes, amusement is definitely good on the part of the reader, if you've got someone laughing along with you it creates a connection I think.

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    1. Yes, it does, and it's a tricky balance to get right. :)

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  23. Amusingly good beginning ;-)

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  24. I always appreciate a witty line or a clever description.

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    1. A good use of words will always get my attention too :)

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  25. I love witty banter between two characters. That's what amuses me.

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear from you. :)