Twitter is an excellent forum for anyone learning how to write humor. With only 140 characters at your disposal on Twitter, you have no choice but to be brief, regardless of what you’re writing. That limited space can be daunting to a writer or comedian who is used to writing long set-ups before reaching the punch line.

Follows those Comedians

While one-liners are humorous, they are a different type of humor than traditional long jokes. As with any form of writing, studying what you intend to write is the first step. Search Twitter until you find comedians whose humor you admire, and study their one-liners. Then, study the one-liners of some lesser-known or unknown comedians. With such a mix, you will see what works and doesn’t work for one-liners. Of course, to write funny one-liners, you still need to understand some of the basics of humor (e.g. how the last few words or line are the punch line, how to use innuendo and puns, etc.). It also helps to pay attention to what’s happening in the news (from social and economic to entertainment and political events) as there are often a lot of opportunities there for humorous commentary. I like to follow a few comedians on Twitter such as That Everyday Guy, Women’s Humor, and Daniel Tosh. You can find other sources of one-liners on sites such Smart-Words.org and KickassHumor.com just by Googling “one-liners” or “funny one-liners,” though these may not stick to the 140 character limit required by Twitter.

Writing is Writing, No Matter the Form

As with any form of writing, once you understand the basics, you will need a notepad or journal where you can jot down your tweet ideas as they come to you. Then you will have to revise your tweets several times to perfect them to meet the 140-character limit and/or improve the comedic effect. If your tweet is over 140 characters, don’t panic and don’t erase or delete that tweet. Let it sit for a few days or weeks and in time you will likely find a way to shorten it without sacrificing the humor.

2 The Pt.

If you still can’t shorten the tweet, social convention has provided an ‘out’ for you on Twitter. You can abbreviate and intentionally misspell words to force your tweet to fit, without people thinking less of your writing or you. Proper grammar and spelling take a back seat to the 140 character rule on Twitter. Just keep in mind that while abbreviations such as BTW and 4 U are commonplace and understood by most people using Twitter, you don’t want to overcrowd your one-liners with too many abbreviations. BTW, write w/ TLC or no 1 will LOL. As you can see, too many abbreviations will slow your readers down, throwing them out of the joke as they focus on deciphering what you’re saying instead of focusing on the humor. While it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your twitter abbreviations or twitter slang, use these terms judiciously, and not at the sacrifice of your humor!

Many professions (e.g. law, medicine) require continuing education of its professionals, justifiably so. After all, who wants to have a doctor whose knowledge of medicine, treatments and diseases is from twenty, ten, or even five years ago?

While continuing education isn’t required for writers, it is nonetheless a smart idea. There are two types of continuing education for writers: 1) Writing related 2) Technology based. Continuing Education in Writing covers any writing class, exercise, research, or connection that expands and improves one’s writing. I won’t cover that subset here, as most writers understand the reason to keep honing one’s writing skills. What many writers don’t consider is the need for continuing education regarding one’s technological skills.

The role of technology in writing

How do you use technology as a writer? Do you stay abreast of all the technological advancements? Ten or fifteen years ago, writers started venturing online, creating their own websites to market themselves, trolling for work on job sites such as Craigslist or Freelancewriting, or learning how to write web copy. What we now consider the ‘basics’ of the internet were at that time new skills we needed to learn to take advantage of a new market. And so, many writers plunged forward, developing their own sites and learning how to write proper web copy for their clients. Searching for jobs online or marketing oneself online are commonplace for many writers now, but they weren’t when the internet was in its infancy.

Blogging

Consider the next progression on the timeline. With the explosion of websites by businesses, the need for content to attract people to their websites exploded tenfold. Content jobs abounded everywhere. Then came the advent of blogs. The concept brought new marketing possibilities and new job opportunities. Now the concept of blogging is so mainstream that many job websites such as Freelancewritinggigs include blogging as a distinct category of writing.

How does one blog to attract as well as retain viewers? How does one promote products and services through a blog? How does one maximize SEO (another technology-based skill writers need to learn if they’re writing for the web)? Of course there’s nothing saying a writer needs to know anything about blogging, but not staying current with the technology limits the writer’s potential for new jobs, and may even risk the loss of current clients, if those clients want a writer who knows how to blog. Blogging was, and remains, nothing more than another technological facet of a writer’s continuing education. Blogging is not a necessity for writing, but rather a new skill to be learned and mastered if a writer wants to stay current and competitive in an existing market.

Social Media

That brings us to present day technological advances… Social Media. More and more writing jobs are not just asking for writers savvy in social media, they are requiring it. Do you know the difference between a tweet and a facebook post? Do you understand the value or ‘like’ing and ‘friend’ing? Do you know how to upload pictures, re-tweet, or create buzz in social media? Or do you avoid using social media all together? Yes, it’s the writer’s choice, but the choice impacts the writer’s marketability.

Lessons From the Past

If you’re finding more and more job opportunities for blogging, and secretly wish that you had starting blogging years back so that you’d be current, then you’ve learned the value of staying current with technology. Even if you haven’t yet started a Facebook account, or have no clue what Twitter is, don’t panic. The good new is that it’s never too late to get started. Just like the internet, Social Media is here to stay. Technology is every-changing, and the sooner your start, the faster you’ll catch up.

In conclusion, consider technology another facet, but a vital one, to your continuing education as a writer. Knowing the ins and outs, as well as the potential uses of the various social media sites can make the difference between landing a client or not.

The truth be told, I’m not quite ready to publish my comic strips online, not because of my drawing skills, but because I’m still not sure I’ve chosen the right title. Perhaps that’s not the best thing to admit given the fact that I’ve published an article on how to choose a title.

My problem is tied to the fact that I’m still fleshing out my characters, and my target audience. Do I want to limit my target audience to my original intended group, or go broader? The answer will then dictate, in part, the title I ultimately use. My original target audience is anyone who is Jewish or has had some exposure to Jewish life. The name Kibbitzers would be understood by most, and it’s not a hard word to read or pronounce. Other names under consideration are so mired with various yiddish spellings, that the words may not be obvious, even to those familiar with Yiddish.

So, I’ll continue creating, knowing the answer will come to me in time as I flesh out more of my characters’ back story, and develop their relationships to one another. And until the answer pops into my head (which will likely be when I’m not even remotely thinking about my comic strip), I’ll stick with The Kibbitzers and call it my ‘working title’.

As many writers know, writing is a creative outlet, and it takes many forms. I’ve written sci-fi novels, children’s books, web-site pages, math puzzle books, advertisements, brochures, web copy and a long list of other items over the years (some of these items have been published, others not – such is the life of a writer!). There are creative itches, even within the writing arena, which never go away until confronted, head on. I’ve reached one of those moments where I’ve decided I have nothing to lose by trying something new.

This creative itch of mine – to create a comic strip – has been on the back burner for ages, all because I don’t have a talent for drawing. I recently reminded one of my kids that no one starts out with perfect skills. Any skill, whether a sport, writing, cooking, or the ability to nail wood together without nailing one’s hands to the board comes with practice, practice, and more practice.

Just because my drawing skills are not in the top 5% of the country’s artists (if I’m going to be realistic, I should change that to the top 99%), doesn’t mean I shouldn’t create a comic strip. After all, a comic strip is another creative writing outlet, and the writer in me wants to explore this genre. The tragedy is not when one fails, but when one fails to try.