I mentioned in a prior post that a lot of my jokes in a story such as Five Talents come through editing and punch up on the already drafted work. As such, whereas my editing work for Beneath the Wood was focused on tightening and making more lean, Five Talents is actually being expanded through the edits by adding more material and smoothing out the timing of humor.
One thing I’m adding in fairly generously are footnote addenda to the story’s narrative. I already enjoy the occasional breach of the fourth wall by my narrative voice, but the footnotes allow for more of a digression from the thread of the scene, and the opportunity to both world build and to have more space to veer away from the thread of the scene for a joke.
Below is an example of first the scene itself in bold and the footnote in italics I added to Calvin’s introduction. Added to the main body of the text, the joke throws the rhythm of the scene off too much, but as a footnote, I think it functions much more effectively as an optional bonus for the reader to scan down to as its own isolated statement:
Calvin felt the hot tingle of anxiety and told himself that Lily couldn’t be that mad at him for the misstep but then refuted internally that she very well could be and very likely was that mad at him for the misstep.*
*Psychologists refer to this immediate oscillation from self-assurance to self-doubt as playing mental chess blindfolded against oneself where the stakes are one’s own self-esteem.