Writing Humor in Romance

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Is humor an important element is your stories? Do you ever laugh at something you've written?

Funny you should ask. I think humor is an essential part of romance writing, especially if a writer seeks to add layers to their characters. Sure, readers want the whole falling in love thing, but restricting protagonists’ interactions to the lovey dovey stuff reduces them to caricatures.

Nothing is funnier than the way people fall in love. The rom-com subgenre highlights the comedy in doting and devotion. No, I do not write romantic comedies (yet), but I do add humor elements like wit, sarcasm, and irony in my writing to give characters depth and readers a levity as a way to further connect with them and their amorous pursuits.

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Wit

A form of intelligent humor, many of my characters use wit to charm the object of their affection. I also infuse witty banter to demonstrate that while they may be feeling for each other, female and male protagonists require mental sharpness in addition to sensual prowess.

Banter plays a significant role between Maryam and Adam in Building on Broken Dreams. As observant Muslims, they court without touching, leaving them to focus on mental and emotional bonding. In the following excerpt, they go back and forth while challenging each other to a bowling match.


“Now—” Adam smirked and sidled to her “—how is men against women fair? We need to even it out.”

She stepped closer. His breath quickened. This was going to be fun. “You’re right. Sarah and I are way too much for the two of you.” Sarah oohed on cue.

“Oh, I can handle anything you got for me.” He offered another beguiling smirk. “I want it.”

She dragged her gaze from his head to his feet and raised an eyebrow. “Big talk for a man in purple shoes.” She circled around him. “Let’s go, Sarah.” She picked up her ball and stared down the lane. One strike later, she and Sarah shared a high five. She gloated as she sashayed past Adam. “Close your mouth, brotha.”

“I thought you said you haven’t bowled since you were twelve.”

She turned and walked backwards. “Yeah, when my team won the junior league championship.” She pointed with a confident grin. “That’s our lane.”


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Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a powerful literary tool I use to show how characters use wit to convey a range of feelings. The people we love tap into facets of our emotions, not just ardor. My love interests not only have the hots for but also anger, irritate and hurt each other.

In the scene from My Way to You, Regina argues with Simon about hiding her from his mother.


Regina waved Simon’s arms off her shoulders. “You looked like a wounded deer because I am not so sure about telling the world about us. Hell, at least my family knows your name and that you exist.” 

Simon closed the door. “Yeah, they know me as Marcus’s old college buddy, not your boyfriend.” His eyes gleaned with anger. “Tell me, who in your family knows that we’ve been dating? Do any of them know that I’ve been slipping into your bed for the past three months? If memory serves me, you’re the one who wanted to keep things just between us.” 

Regina stuck her finger in his face. “No! Don’t you dare.” She poked his chest between sentences. “You don’t get to use my words against me. You don’t want to tell Marcus either, and we both know why – because he’ll freak. Now, you tell me, why you have no problem bringing me around your coworkers but haven’t found the time to tell your mother slash personal shopper about your Black girlfriend whose bed you’ve been bouncing into for months? Is it because I’m one of “those people,” as she put it?” 

Simon’s mouth opened but a soft knock interrupted him. “Simon? I asked if you had any fresh cream.” Alice continued to knock.  

Regina smirked. “Go ahead, Simon. Get your mother her cream. She doesn’t even like her coffee black.”  


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Irony

Irony is a complex literary device that involves and event occurring differently than expected. Life always throw curveballs at us all the time, and I try to make it the same for my characters.

Out of the types of irony, I dramatic and situational irony. Most of Building in Broken contains dramatic irony. Adam courts and marries Maryam, building a life with her and blissfully unaware that his wife’s ex, Raad is looking for her—but the reader does.

I integrated a lot of situational ironies in Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit. The main character, Marcus is usually in control of the people and situations surrounding him. However, his confidence and authority slip as he finds himself in situations with someone else in control. In the scene below, things get hot and heavy between Marcus and his wife Toni, when they are rudely interrupted, ushering a comedic cut through their passion.

Note: Heat Ahead (Mature Audience Only)


Just as Marcus straddled Toni’s supple legs around him, Regina’s familiar ringtone cracked through the sensual vibe. “Uh,” Marcus craned his head past Toni, but she pushed his shoulders and held him against the sofa. She passed his tip back and forth between her wet folds and came down on his stiffness until he filled her. Satiny hot walls clenched around him.

He grasped her hips, prodding her up and down his cock until her wetness dripped around it. “You know,” he said between gulps for air, “she’s not going to stop. You need to call her.” Her nipples bounced in front of him. “But not now.” He captured one and rolled it between the roof of his mouth and tongue. 

“Uh-huh. She moaned and dug her fingers into his shoulders. That’s it.”  

His phone rang next. “Damn it.” He moved his hips forward, lifting their bodies and snatching it from the coffee table. Enough with the girlfriend drama. “Stop calling us, Gina.” He fell back onto the sofa. Toni renewed her magnificent stride up and down his cock.  

I’m sorry. I just want to—” 

“Hold on.” He pressed the speakerphone button and looked up at Toni. “Here.” 

Toni pushed back hair her. “Hey, girl.” The calm in her voice betrayed the utter ecstasy masking her face. “We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?” 

Regina sniffled. “Promise?” 

Marcus anchored his feet to the floor and moved his hips upward, slamming Toni on him until her buttocks slapped against his thighs. Baby sister is not about to mess up my flow. It’s been too long since I had some.  

Toni threw her head back. “I promise,” she stammered and heaved. 

All right. Wait, are you guys—” He hung up and tossed the phone to the other side of the couch. 

“Now,” he pinned her gaze, “give it to me Toni.” 


The effective use of humor offers writers the chance to give characters levels of emotion that enhances them and a story’s plot for readers.


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7 thoughts on “Writing Humor in Romance

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  1. Like it! I am married to a not-so-closetted comedian. For Brad, everything is a potential funny and it turns out I’m pretty quippy. So I’m a big believer in humor in romance. Laughter can cover a multitude of misunderstanding, for example.

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  2. I have worked with several masters of sexual innuendo. Although much of what came out of their mouths was not safe for work, they were pretty good at reading the room and knowing when they could get away with it.

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  3. Yes, please. 😉 I agree that humor adds flesh to characters and gives a story more layers. There are always genres where it’s better to have a single focus, but I enjoy stories that have a lot going on.

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