“The family that laughs together, lasts together.“
Recently, while watching an interview with comedian Finesse Mitchell, he commented on how funny and colorful his three year-old daughter is turning out to be. He confessed that he’s trying to find a way to exploit her talents to make bigger bucks in his own career.
This guy was on to something. “Finding the funny” in our family is a great way to see the lighter side of things, bond with readers, share our unique stories, and make serious money in the process. And, let’s face it…we all have a few nuts rooted in our family tree.
In fact, family dynamics have always made for terrific entertainment. Not convinced? Look no further than popular shows like Archie Bunker and “All in the family,” Al Bundy from “Married, With Children,” “Sanford and Son,” “Blackish,” “Mike and Molly,” and “The King of Queens.”
Consider, too, the huge success of famous playwright Tyler Perry who went from poverty to earning millions from his colorful character “Madea,“ whom he confessed, on the Oprah Show, “was the combination of his mother and his no-holds-barred aunt.”
Personally speaking, my family antics have appeared in anthologies published by Simon and Schuster, in poetry chapbooks, creative contests, and even in periodic blog posts. And yours can, too.
There is money to be made. But, be forewarned. There’s a right and wrong way to use your family as fodder for maximum results.
Below are some “Best Practices Guidelines.”
- Share characters and situations that have universal appeal and relatable situations. Most of us can relate to strict parenting; or sibling rivalry; or a relative who refuses to hold down a job and grow up; or having attended a wedding from hell; or having a family member with strange idiosyncrasies. Start here.
- Strive to tell your story with taste and humor. For example, avoid making fun of family members who may struggle with mental health issues, real physical disabilities, or painful tragedies.
- Keep your eyes and ears open at family functions such as reunions, graduations and major holiday gatherings to enhance your efforts. Another great source for funny stories is family road trips. Remember the hilarity of Chevy Chase and the Griswolds?
- Get feedback from family members whose opinions and input you value.
- Change the names of individuals that may be offended by the way they are portrayed in your story (and also to potentially protect the guilty).
- Be sure to check the archives of the targeted publication, and follow their guidelines closely for optimal results.
- When applicable, add family photos to your submissions. Doing so provides visual appeal and variety. Often, humor can be found in hairstyles from former decades, clothing, facial expressions, places, and even unexpected moments. Be sure to obtain model releases from those individuals.
- Don’t confine yourself to just one format or genre. Remember, a “story” can unfold through a poem, or a joke, or a family recipe. Get creative to increase the odds of success.
- Never violate family trusts or trash relatives for the sake of making a quick buck. There’s no “fun” in that…and doing so can lead to lawsuits.
- Don’t get discouraged if your story is not accepted right away. Finding the perfect theme, slant, or series can sometimes take months or more. Particularly for stories submitted to the popular Chicken Soup series.
PAYING MARKETS FOR FUNNY FAMILY STORIES
Pay varies “depending on the story length and the column for which the piece will be used.”
Pay starts at $25
Next time you experience writer’s block, consider ideas that are “close to home.” Follow these timely tips, and be resourceful, and you’ll find yourself “laughing all the way to the bank!”
- 7 Paying Humor Markets for Freelance Writers By Emma Larkins
- Humor Sells – Jeanette Levellie
- Mining Your Family for Query Ideas By Debbie Swanson
- Turn Funny Into Money! Paying Comedy Markets for Writers by Dana Schellings (DanaSan)
- Say it Funny, Sell It By Susan Sundwall
JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, ghost writer and author. Publishing credits include: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha and Chicago Sun-times. Banks considers herself a time management guru, (in addition to being a writer). Learn more at her popular blog, Pen & Prosper.
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