I feel like every writer should learn the basics of improvisational comedy. You remember watching Whose Line is it Anyway? and going, “wow, I wish I could be that quick.” Well, yeah, Improv comedy lessons will teach you all the rules of being a good improv comedian like those guys. (Although, they can’t really help teach you to be funny…)
One thing that my troupe (yes, we became a troupe, we did shows and performances and it was wonderful!) was really bad for was constantly reincorporating jokes that weren’t funny to begin with, or were inside jokes that no one in the audience would understand.
Now, normally, this isn’t a bad thing, but when you hear the same three jokes every week, and then at every show, you kinda want to gouge your costars’ tongues out with a spork so they can’t keep making the same joke over and over and over.
My director noticed this too, and he told the troupe the RULE of reincorporation.
The rule is 3 times. No more.
To elaborate on that, he also added that it’s 3 times throughout a show. No more.
Basically, the way it goes is that something is funny the first time, not as funny the second time, and the unexpected third time that it’s reincorporated is usually played for laughs, to end a scene or, in rare cases, to tie everything all back together.
I think that the same thing can be said for writing a book.
3 is a really good number. It’s aesthetically pleasing. Things are often grouped in 3’s in design and visual mediums. So why not use it in writing?
Shakespeare did it with his three witches. Genies offer 3 wishes. Jesus was denied thrice.
See what I mean?
If you have something that is going to be important, feel free to reincorporate it. In fact, if it’s REALLY important, like a sign or portent of something, DEFINITELY reincorporate it. Just, don’t go overboard.
If you can find a way to work in the reincorporation of a joke or pun too, then I might have to bow to your might.