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I've written a book.

My question is if it is in bad {taste, karma, policy} to use an analogy that is disrupting to the reader's stream of consciousness. The quote in question is this:

Like a banana at an ice cream party, we decided to split up.

This sentence is funny, yes, but it potentially distracts the reader from the dramatic situation at hand: we are staking out this building and trying to rescue our friend.

I am a believer in the idea that one should not hold back from any good ideas, regardless of how it impacts the current end result, but maybe this is an exception?

  • To be clear, the book is a comedy. There are dramatic situation; and heart-felt sits; and, yes, comedic ones.It is first-person, and the narrator/speaker makes impromptu notes in his day-to-day life which can be called silly or ridiculous. It's a comedy. – Chowzen Apr 27 '19 at 23:33
  • The answers to this post are seemingly dedicated to this specific line, and whether it is funny or not. The question remains:"does an interesting analogy become a distraction?" – Chowzen Apr 28 '19 at 3:01
  • That would have been good information to give in the beginning. You also only gave one example, so that's all we had to go on. But all three answerers did address your question. You might not like our answers, and that's okay. But we did the best we could with the question as written. – Cyn says make Monica whole Apr 28 '19 at 4:43
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Your question is a bit all over the map but, ultimately, it's about tone.

Your silly example would be fine for a first person narrator who loves puns and can never be completely serious. If it's the only time s/he ever said anything like that, it would be very out of place and jarring.

If your example is a character's dialogue, then it depends on the character. Pretty much anyone hearing that line from someone in real life would roll their eyes (and maybe cross the person off their next invite list), unless they were into the absurd.

It's just not a line someone would say about their breakup. The only way it works is if it's two characters (preferably teens or younger) playing amateur detective who enter a location and decide to split up to cover more ground. Even then, it's odd.

If the tone of your book isn't consistent, it will annoy your reader. Sure, it's okay to have sad parts, joyous parts, and so on, that's not the same thing. But if you throw in every idea you have, it's going to be a mess.

When you get an idea, write it down! Have an idea journal, or the computer equivalent. But when it comes to your book, cut ruthlessly. Leave what works. Kick to the curb (back to the idea journal) whatever doesn't.

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  • +1, I don't know what your down vote was about. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Apr 27 '19 at 19:42
  • @Amadeus Yeah people have their reasons. Who knows? Thanks. – Cyn says make Monica whole Apr 27 '19 at 19:46
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    I think some voters (or OP) just vote down anything that isn't positive. I risk the same fate with my answer! Oh well, sometimes bad news is necessary. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Apr 27 '19 at 19:56
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If the scene is supposed to be dramatic, a joke is out of place. Personally I did not find it funny, I thought it cliché.

As a professional author and teacher, I am NOT in favor of the idea that "one should not hold back from any good ideas, regardless of how it impacts the current end result".

If it negatively impacts the end result, it isn't a good idea. Or your definition of a "good idea" is seriously lacking. Good ideas improve the writing, ramp up the drama or danger or emotion. Just because you think something is funny doesn't make it a good idea for the scene you are writing; "funny" is not always appropriate. Your goal in any given scene is to convey some tone, and a smart writer restricts their definition of "good" to what matches the tone, and their definition of "bad" to anything dissonant with that tone.

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Humour can ease tension and lighten the mood when things get dark, but that line seems better omitted.

The line you mention in the situation you describe seems to undercut the tension of the scene. Watching a building, preparing to rescue a friend and that line runs the risk of making light of the entire situation. Why should the reader care if the author does not?

I have some quips and puns in my book, but they are often simply thoughts and followed by a quick glad I didn’t say that.

I do have situations where one character will quip or another might, to clarify a situation in his own mind, use humour.

Humour should be used carefully. Leavening an otherwise dark work, relieving tension at a critical moment are all valid uses for humour in prose. Be careful that a pun does not cause the reader to put the book down.

Edit: Interesting analogies are only distracting if you misuse them. Seamless integration of the analogy reduces the likelihood of breaking reader immersion.

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