Giggle Cries: Tension Relief

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Harry Potter and Steel Magnolia Spoilers Be Warned!

Here is the movie clip:



The above is a famous scene from the film Steel Magnolias. Sally Field’s character, M’Lynn has just lost her daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts) to diabetes complications, and she is extremely upset. Life is unfair and heartbreaking. Clairee is the comic relief that all of our hearts crave as she offers up the grumpy Ouisser to be hit.

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” – Truvy Jones Steel Magnolias—it’s mine too, Truvy J.

Laughter is a gift. It stimulates, relaxes and restores a sense of well-being. We laugh out of surprise and we laugh when we feel superior. This is why humor is an important writing tool. As writer’s we need to take our readers through intense scenarios. We want them to struggle along with our characters on their journeys, but we don’t want to crush our readers. We have to surprise our readers when they least expect it, in the middle of tragedy and make them believe they can overcome it—that they are superior or okay (

Mrs. Baker says it best in Gary D. Schmidt’s The Wednesday Wars: “A comedy is about characters who dare to know that they may choose a happy ending after all.”

J.K. Rowling has a lot of moments in her Harry Potter series for this. Including when George loses his ear in the final book.

“Saintlike,” repeated George, opening his eyes and looking up at his brother. “You see..I’m holy. Holey, Fred, geddit?”

Every genre requires the element of surprise. So try to surprise your readers with laughter. I will try to and I will leave you with my favorite Harry Potter cry giggle found in The Half Blood Prince.

They are gathered around Bill Weasley’s bedside as his face had been mauled by Fenrir Greyback when Hogwarts was invaded by deatheaters. Everyone is also learning that the great Dumbledore has been killed. Throughout the whole book Mrs. Weasley has not been fond of her son’s engagement to Fleur Delacoure and then we readers get this beautiful surprise in which Fleur flips the script of her not wanting to marry Bill because of his looks to the ridiculous notion of him not wanting to marry her because the werewolf bites will cause him to fall out of love with her:

“Dumbledore gone,” whispered Mr. Weasley, but Mrs. Weasley had eyes only for her eldest son; she began to sob, tears falling onto Bill’s mutilated face.

“Of course, it doesn’t matter how he looks…It’s not r-really important…but he was a very handsome little b-boy…always very handsome…and he was g-going to be married!”

“And what do you mean by zat?” said Fleur suddenly and loudly. “What do you mean, ‘’e was going to be married?’”

Mrs. Weasley raised her tear-stained face, looking startled. “Well—only that—”

“You theenk Bill will not wish to marry me anymore?” demanded Fleur. “you theenk, because of these bites, he will not love me?”

“No, that’s not what I—”

“Because ‘e will!” said Fleur, drawing herself up to her full height and throwing back her long mane of silver hair. “It would take more zan a werewolf to stop Bill loving me!”

“Well, yes, I’m sure,” said Mrs. Weasley, “but I thought perhaps—given how—how he—”

“You thought I would not weesh to marry him? Or per’aps, you hoped?” said Fleur, her nostrils flaring. “What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk! All these scars show is zat my husband is brave! And I shall do zat!” she added fiercely, pushing Mrs. Weasley aside and snatching the ointment from her.” (Mrs. Weasley then finally accepts Fleur as her future daughter in law).

….. next chapter

“All that appeared to have changed was now he [Bill] had a great liking for very rare steaks.

‘…so eeet ees lucky ‘e is marrying me,” said Fleur happily, plumping up Bill’s pillows, “because ze British overcook their meat, I’ave always said this.”

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