Becoming Smunny: Striking the Balance between Smutty and Funny
by Arlene Schindler, The Last Place She’d Look

I was a writer in search of my own voice, struggling for years to find my own unique approach to storytelling. As a former writer for Playgirl, I was well acquainted with scenarios that began, “This has never happened to me before, but…”

After the chart topping and money making success of the “50 shades” series, coupled with the increasing popularity of erotica and bodice ripping romance novels, I realized that sex was selling faster than Monday morning cappuccinos. Readers wanted a hot jolt. But what if rather than writing anticipated sexual tensions and releases, I went in an unexpected but humorous direction? Readers love learning about sexual adventures outside of their own experience. They love laughing too. What better way to build a readership and find your writer’s voice than combining the two? Making smut (the pet name sex writers have for their work) funny seemed like an obvious direction, given my writer’s toolkit. So I’m cultivating my own new genre: Smut & funny= smunny (and hopefully some money).

Smunny example: A woman goes on a blind date. She anticipates the usual hope for a love connection, fear of a bad date. When she arrives she learns that her date died earlier that week. But his family heard so much about her that they want to have brunch with her. Two surprises never anticipated in a blind date scenario.

I realized that a reader is drawn into a story in one of two ways: they are shocked or seduced. What if they are shocked or surprised by how a seduction unfolds … to the point of laughter? A seductive dinner culminating with a romantic interlude in front of a roaring fire … ending with a clumsy mishap that practically sets the house ablaze.

My novel The Last Place She’d Look is a series of smunny adventures, in the formula of Anthony Burgess. Years ago, in college, I had the opportunity to meet acclaimed novelist Burgess, best known for A Clockwork Orange. The wisdom he shared as his key to writing success sits on my desk to this day: The 5 secrets of a best seller: uplift, information, adventure, sex, a character decides to change.

I agree with Burgess wholeheartedly. To create my story, I begin with Burgess’ 5 ingredients. Next I add imagination and absurdity. Then I add a layer of smut and funny. Mix gently, edit repeatedly. Share with readers.

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Arlene Schindler originated the Comedy Review column for The New York Post, and has written for The Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety, Woman Magazine and Playgirl. Arlene is a regular on the spoken word circuit in Los Angeles, telling tales of women’s secrets and desires; a raucous romp through the hidden lives of  today’s “mature” woman.

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