What’s So Funny?

My prompt ties to my guest blogger this week, author Phillip Rivera. He writes hilarious stories about life as a dad in the suburbs. This photo inspired me to write a fun, domestic story, but it could also be a humorous superhero story, with this toddler possessing powers like Jack-Jack in The Incredibles movies.

Who wants to play? What so funny about this photo? Here’s my inspiration:

I can’t hold out much longer. When I agreed to babysit theses kids, I didn’t realize they were outlaws. No, more like Vikings–every room they enter, they raze to the ground. Six hours a day, three days a week. They could triple my pay and I still would spin on my flip-flop and march away.

“Emmie?” says a high-pitched voice which would sound cute if I didn’t know who it belongs to.

I press my lips together, holding my breath.

“Emmie, how come you hiding under there?”

For more funny writing prompts, click here.

Writing Tips from Poet Lori Z. Scott

Always happy to introduce you to an author new to JPC Allen Writes. I met author and poet Lori Z. Scott on Instagram and have enjoyed her poetry so much that I asked her to guest blog for National Poetry Month. Welcome, Lori!

People write poetry for many reasons. To express pain, sorrow, or joy. To entertain, convict, or explore. To say hello, goodbye, or I love you. It’s often a go-to media because poetry is a flexible art form, with many different forms a writer can explore to craft a good poem. Popular ones include acrostic, haiku, limerick, concrete, tanka, ode, and rhyming verse. 

Poetry can also be a rigid and complex art form. Rules that govern poetry range from the strict guidelines of a sonnet to free verse, which follows no rules at all. In addition to that, poems employ a number of literary devices, including alliteration, assonance, internal or end rhyme, repetition, symbolism, meter, and more.

Still, anyone can write poetry. I succeeded mostly using two methods. The first is easy. The second will require some work. 

The easy tip: read a lot of poetry—out loud

I thrived on the simple but profound rhymes of Shel Silverstein, the silliness of Jack Prelutsky, the intricate and witty storytelling of Robert Service, the craziness of Lewis Carroll, and the down-to-earth sing-song messages of Edgar Guest. While I typically trip over my words in my regular speech, these gems roll off my tongue in a pleasing way. I believe the recitation of poems helped develop and hone my ear for poetry. Truth be told, I memorized a lot of them, and that influenced the creation of my own. Which is, coincidentally, one of the best ways to learn.

Some work required tip: brainstorming (a method developed by Alex Osborn.) 

The idea behind brainstorming is to generate a lot of ideas. The more you compile, the better chance you have of hitting gold. To brainstorm, first consider the topic you want to write about. Usually this is a single word or a theme. Then list as many spontaneous ideas as possible related to it. Then categorize the words. Group together words that rhyme, words with alliteration or assonance, and so on. If new ideas occur, add those to the list. Then build the poem. Once written, check each line for the syllable count (unless it’s free verse) and then read it out loud to hear where the accents, or beats, fall. If they don’t work, you will stumble over them. If they do, they’ll roll in a fluid manner. 

(A while back, I wrote an article for Story Embers about developing creativity through brainstorming. You can visit for more details. https://storyembers.org/5-classroom-techniques-writers-can-adopt-to-improve-creativity/

I used this method to write the poem WINTER. Notice how the rhymes, word choice, and use of alliteration work together to create the feeling of a pleasant winter day instead of a bitterly cold one.


Soft is the blanket of snow on the ground.

Gentle the breeze in the air.

Tender branches all bundled in ice.

Covered with comforting care.

Simple the silence embracing the Earth.

Restful the rise of the hill.

Beauty the sun as it kisses the sky

Tasting its peppermint chill.

Sometimes I write poetry with strict rules because my brain enjoys the challenge. Recently, I tried a Shakespearean sonnet, which often have a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG—three quatrains (four lines grouped together) and a couplet (2 rhyming lines). Poets must write one iamb (one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable) in each segment until there are 10 syllables in iambic pentameter.

I soon learned this was no easy task… so I had fun with it, writing a sonnet about the fact that I couldn’t write a sonnet.

I think I have but fourteen lines to write.

And yet I find it difficult to do.

A sonnet has restricting rules that bite.

And trip the one who pens without a clue.

Alas, I fear the structure of this form.

Will push my puny brain to exercise

More thinking than I care to be the norm

And serve as one more step to my demise.

Iambic beat cannot be broken or bent.

I wish, dear friend, that fact was not so true.

So, though I voice my simple discontent,

I cannot find the words to see it through.

Dear Sonnet, I must put my pen away.

My ode to you cannot be done today.

I know exactly what you mean. I thought I was decent at short form poetry until I tried limericks. For more about how limericks defeated me, click here.

Thank you so much for sharing your tips, Lori. Now I know how you craft such fun poems!


Elementary school teacher Lori Z. Scott usually writes fiction because, like an atom, she makes up everything. Her down time is filled with two quirky habits: chronic doodling and inventing lames jokes. Neither one impresses her principal (or friends/parents/casual strangers), but they do help inspire her writing. Somehow, her odd musings led her to accidentally write the 10-book bestselling Meghan Rose chapter book series and on purpose write over 150 short stories, articles, essays, poems, and devotions. Follow her on Instagram @Lori Z. Scott and read more of her great poems #lorizscottpoems.

Limerick Prompt

Because it’s National Humor Month and Nation Poetry Month, I wanted to combined the celebrations into one prompt and decided on a limerick prompt. Then I discovered I can’t write limericks. Haiku, yes. Acrostic poems, yes. Limericks–I can do the first two lines and get stuck. Here’s the limerick I started that was inspired by the photo:

There once was a lion and girl

Who decided to give friendship a twirl.

And that’s as far as I got. I even tried writing a limerick on my inability to write one:

There once was a writer in Ohio

Whose poetry made her sigh so.

I’m still stuck. I console myself with the fact that even gifted poets, like Lori Z. Scott, who will be guest blogging this week, have trouble with different poetic forms. She writes about her effort to tackle a sonnet.

If you can write limericks, please leave it in the comments below. Or if you get inspiration for finishing either of mine, I’d love to read it!

If limericks stump you like they do me, try last week’s spring acrostic prompt.

How to Add Humor to Any Story

No matter what genre, if a few characters in a story display a sense of humor, that hooks me as readily as quirky characters or an intriguing plot. Click here for a previous post on the importance of humor.

Inserting humor into a story, especially one with a serious premise, can be difficult. I’ve discovered how to add humor to any story by knowing my characters extremely well and allowing their natures to dictate their sense of humor.

Assigning the Correct Sense of Humor

In my YA mystery A Shadow on the Snow, my main character Rae is quiet, shy person. Most of her funny remarks are in her thoughts. Her uncle Hank is the family joker. He likes to tease relatives to show his affection, especially Rae’s father, his brother-in-law. This kind of humor seems appropriate for a laid-back, extroverted character. Rae’s father, on the other hand, uses sarcastic humor. That fits with his being a cop of fifteen years experience.

Rae jams in a band with two guys. Houston is from Texas. His sense of humor is exaggeration. When Rae asks him how he came to work in Ohio, he answers, “Like any good Texan, I was undone by a woman.” The other guy Chris is very reserve, and Rae finds it difficult to read his facial or body language. He has a very dry sense of humor that Rae only figures out when she sees an ornery glint in his eyes.

As I’m writing a scene, and a joke or humorous observation comes to me, I have to make sure I assign it to the appropriate character. Sometimes, I’ve had to discard something I think is funny because no character in the scene would make that kind of joke or comment. Writers don’t want to break the illusion of reality they create around their fiction. Jamming a joke in the mouth of a character just because I think it’s hilarious will shatter that illusion quicker than just about any other mistake.

My joker, Uncle Hank, can’t suddenly turn sarcastic because I want to dazzle readers with my wit. Or Rae’s father can’t tell a thigh-slapping joke when up until this point in the story he’s only used sarcasm. Readers won’t buy it, or even worse, feel cheated that a character has suddenly swerved from the personality they’ve come to understand.

For more on writing humor and comedy and what’s the difference, check out this very helpful article on “Almost an Author”.

What stories or shows do you think demonstrate how to add humor naturally?

Spring Acrostic Prompt

I have two themes this month because April is National Humor Month and National Poetry Month. You’ll see prompts for both as well as a crossover! I have a spring acrostic prompt for today. I decided to reprint an acrostic poem I wrote for Easter a few years back. Please put your acrostic poem about anything spring in the comments!

Click here to read previous poetry prompts.

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