I find television writing very interesting because in many cases, the scripts are written by committee, and even when a single person has control, they are still subject to changes made by directors, producers, and actors. The fact that they produce anything palatable at all is a miracle, and when they miss the mark, they make for glorious train-wrecks.
Lately, I’ve been watching That 70s Show, the last season of which was a glorious train-wreck, and I noticed a phenomena which I have seen a few times in fiction. They play fast and loose with internal consistency. They do things that make no sense just to be funny. They even unapologetically make fun of their mistakes. Still, as long as they kept making funny episodes, I didn’t really care. (Though I admit I watched the last season just to see the train-wreck pull into the station.
I pick on That 70s Show, but it isn’t the the only comedy show/novel/movie/play I’ve caught playing fast and loose for a quick laugh. So, the feeling I’m getting is that is you can be funny enough, you get a bit of a pass on making sense. Many times, I’ve told people that I will risk the hallowed rules of writing, Chekov’s gun, et al, for a cheap joke, but I often agonize over how far to go.
I’m currently 24,000 words into my latest (forth or fifth?) re-write of my work-in-progress. I’m really being pulled between my desire to tell a good story, tell a funny story, and make it seem natural and flowing–feedback from my critique group is that the story seems forced and rigid. I’ve even stopped going to my critique group because the story is causing a bit of a metaphysical crisis for me. I have this feeling like the way to tell this story lies deep inside my soul, not in external advice.
All I can do is keep writing and hope the answer comes in the next 24,000 words, or the 24,000 after that.