If a book makes me laugh within the first few pages, chances are I’ll finish it. And if an author and I can laugh together in our first meeting, at least we know we’re on the same page about something—chances are we’ll be on the same page about a lot more, too. Humor is one of the quickest ways I can tell if an author and I will be compatible and if my edits will serve their work in the way it deserves.
Humor often involves looking at something askew, and if you and another person can look at a situation from similarly bizarre angles, that’s special. It means you have a shared sensibility and, hopefully and importantly, a shared ability to not take yourself too seriously. The bad sentence is a great equalizer; we’ve all written a few (or many…guilty!) throughout our lives. But it’s our ability to look at that sentence, laugh at ourselves, and revise that makes us better writers and editors.
So whether what you’re working on is laugh-out-loud funny or decidedly not, I’m sure there’s humor somewhere in those pages—look for it and know you’ve found a real partner when someone else recognizes it too.
—Pilar Garcia-Brown, senior editor, Dutton