I became intrigued with the principles of improvisational comedy after reading "One for the Money" by Janet Evanovich. The author of the highly successful Stephanie Plum mystery series, Evanovich is one of the richest authors in the world, according to Forbes.com. She has stated in interviews she learned to write dialogue by getting up on stage and doing improv acting.

I had to know more. My dialogue could use a punch. What was the secret of comedy that was eluding me? I did some research on improv, and learned there are basic principles. Here are a few:

1. Be willing to fail spectacularly. Take risks, there are no consequences.
2. Action beats inaction.
3. Let go and flow.
4. There are no mistakes, only interesting choices.
5. Trust yourself. There are an infinite number of ideas to dig you out.
6. "Yes.... and...."

The final item I listed is the most powerful improvisational comedy principle of all. "Yes... and..." means to accept what is given and to build on it. It implies acceptance and moving forward. "Yes.... and...." acknowledges the reality of the moment, but also inspires taking it to the next level.

I began thinking about the "Yes.... and...." principle, and suddenly I felt free. My writing improved. My characters became interesting. Their dialogue became unpredictable. Plot twists became the norm, and I was having fun.

I am not suggesting all fiction authors should write comedy, but I am saying if a writer is not enjoying their craft, it shows. How can an author expect the reader to enjoy his work if he did not enjoy writing it? The question is worth considering.


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