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Laughter and Magic: Top Tips to Write Humorous Urban Fantasy

Laughter and Magic: Top Tips to Write Humorous Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy seamlessly blends the mundane and the extraordinary in the ever-evolving tapestry of speculative fiction. It invites readers to embark on whimsical adventures where magic and mysticism intertwine with the familiarity of modern-day life. 

For those bold enough to venture into the realm of adding humor to urban fantasy, the journey ahead is a thrilling and rewarding one. Join us as we delve into the top tips that will elevate your writing to new heights (jokes not included).


As urban fantasy writers, we wield a powerful tool - the ability to stretch the boundaries of reality. This skill not only enriches our humor but also breathes life into our characters and worlds. While subtle humor has its charm, urban fantasy opens the door to a world of Looney Tunes-esque absurdity, a playground where our readers' inner children can run wild, free from the constraints of nonfiction.

Rather than a side character merely passing out drunk, envision wine transforming their imagination into physical manifestations like a fantastical holodeck gone awry. Instead of an eviction notice, a landlord enlists a witch to banish the entire duplex to Hell for a week, a magical fumigation. Rather than accepting an HVAC contractor's overpriced estimate, the protagonist attempts to summon an elemental, triggering a localized ice age.

The beauty of such amplifications is their humor, intrigue, and potential as pivotal plot or character development devices. Through judicious exaggeration, writers can craft engaging narratives.


A compelling argument for the essence of humor lies in dissonance—a disjunction between expectation and reality. It could manifest as a groan-worthy pun or as extreme as alligator Loki.

A gap emerges between what readers anticipate and what they encounter. Readers tend to fill that gap with humor in light-hearted scenes, provided the dissonance isn't too extreme. An overly wide gap breeds confusion, undermining the intended effect.

Urban fantasy excels at leveraging this concept, as readers relish discovering how an author's world diverges from conventions and their expectations.

For example, while werewolves are an urban fantasy staple, yours might have evolved into were-goldendoodles over centuries of domestication. This bizarre, unexpected twist introduces a novel world element and potential humor for some readers.

Embrace Obscurity

Don't shy away from jokes that some readers may not comprehend. No joke resonates universally, and every instance of dissonance will leave some readers bewildered rather than amused.

And that's okay.

Your humor needn't cater to everyone, and your entire book likely shouldn't, lest it become the urban fantasy equivalent of vanilla ice cream. While vanilla appeals to most, it's ubiquitous. Aim to offer a unique flavor, even if it polarizes tastes. A passionate niche following trumps universal indifference.

Relax (Seriously)

Resist taking yourself too seriously, even if striving for world-changing storytelling. Recognize the inherent absurdity of your endeavor—being paid to fabricate compelling fictions that blur the lines between reality and falsehood.

This intrinsic ridiculousness presents ample opportunity for self-deprecation, satirizing peers and readers alike. Fantasy writing's essence is whimsy. While evoking occasional tears, your ultimate goal should be eliciting laughter, lest readers weary of your dramatic abuses.

Make Yourself Laugh

While crafting humor contrary to one's tastes is possible, sustaining it poses unnecessary challenges in an arduous craft. Why pursue extra hurdles?

Write what amuses you. Crippling self-doubt may accompany each punchline, but if it elicits your laughter, an audience exists, however niche.

Moreover, writers benefit from the sunk-cost fallacy. That groan-worthy pun may have induced eye-rolls, but by page 100, readers have invested too much to abandon the book. They'll persist, perhaps even encountering jokes aligning with their humor.

Prioritize writing for your amusement. Authenticity resonates, even when tastes diverge. Embrace your comedic sensibilities without restraint – someone will appreciate the unbridled joy. 

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