This is a post about the process of humor. A while back, one of my kids asked me how it was that I came up with humor for my book. I said, like most anything involving writing, that it was a process.

In my new book The Elven Comedienne, the plot requires there be an Elven Goddess of Life and Death. Elven theology in my book is a little more whimsical than most other theologies, and responsibilities go better in threes anyway, so I wanted to add a whimsical third responsibility for the Goddess. After several moments thought, I wanted to get on to writing the rest of the story and decided to give Her the responsibility for Pointy Sticks as well.

As a matter of humor, I think the idea of “The Elven Goddess of Life, Death, and Pointy Sticks” is worth a chuckle. But really, that’s all it was worth, and I wasn’t really satisfied with it. Pointy Sticks could be funnier. I let it roll around in the back of my head for a day or so before realizing I could satisfy not just my sense of humor but also my sense of grammatical pedantry. Right there in the title, right after the word “Death”, was the thing that popped out. It was an Oxford Comma!

So I changed Larethian’s title to “The Elven Goddess of Life, Death, and the Oxford Comma”. But I wasn’t done there.

There is a certain absurdity to the title—probably the most powerful Elven Goddess is responsible for something that even the snobbiest of grammar snobs would admit is a relatively obscure aspect of grammar. This presented a challenge to me, something for which Jana, the main character of the story, would want an explanation. I had to come up with an explanation for how this came to be.

And so I did.

I’m not going to tell you how it happened. (Please, buy my book if you’d like to know!) But I will say it’s the sort of story that is both eminently sensible on its face and utterly absurd in its totality. Which is, to me, one of the best ways to get a laugh.

Plus, it added a good 700 or so words to my word count. You get enough of these little bits of inspiration, string them together, and then you have a decent sized book.