People are social by nature. They have fears, concerns, experience happiness (smiling) and failure (frowning). It takes 22 muscles to smile and 32 muscles to frown so why not let your reader smile as they read your manuscript.
Humor wears many hats and can effectively enhance your writing. The idea is not to let your reader think your protagonist is a clown but to add a real true-life characteristic to their personality.
I said that humor has many hats. By this, I mean the different types of humor available to writers. There is the laugh aloud humor, the kind you hear at a party or read in a joke magazine. There is purposeful humor. Humor created by the actions of your protagonist, like playing a joke on their best friend. How about creating a scene between two of your characters whose dialogue creates a humorous scene. I call this indirect humor. A third party such as your reader can only observe this type of humor. Indirect humor is my favorite because it draws in your reader and makes them smile or laugh.
I will give an example of indirect humor from my second book titled QUEST (sequel to MYSTERIOUS GIFT). First, I must set up the scene for you. Jen and Cheryl are in modern day Greece looking for the Muse of History. The hotel they are staying in is magical. Built by the ancient Greek gods it has many features not found in normal hotels. For one, normal people cannot see it. They see only an empty lot. The rooms Jen and Cheryl are staying in look small from the outside, however inside it expands to hundreds of square feet. The bathroom contains a brook for bathing and healing and has a trail leading to a large field covered in flowers and cold mountains in the background. This area is The Valley of Dreams; you can act out your deepest fantasies. If your fantasy is to have an affair with a Greek god or hero, it can happen here. Want to be the hero of a war or listen to Plato as he recites his teachings; it is all possible here. Time stands still while you are inside this valley. Jen explores this area; becomes disillusioned, and returns to her room. She vows to warn Cheryl of the Valley of Dreams.
Excerpt: Jen was just about to check her own clothing for the night's activities when she heard knocking on the door leading to Cheryl's room. Cheryl came in dressed in her bathrobe. Her arms and legs showed several dark, reddish bruises. A red welt crossed her left cheek.
"Cheryl, what happened to you?"
"I spent time in the Valley of Dreams."
"Oh Cheryl, I was going to warn you about that. It is false; no real happiness can come of it."
Cheryl's eyes took on a dreamy look.
"It was wonderful, and I would do it again. You should have seen them: tall, muscular, bearded, and brave."
Jen's mouth dropped opened as she stepped backwards and looked again at Cheryl.
"They all wanted to do my bidding, no questions asked. I was surrounded by men, all eager to please me."
"Cheryl,how many men where there?"
"Three hundred, strong, brave, and willing men, all at my beckoning."
Jen tripped backwards, landing on her bed.
"Three hundred," she gasped.
"I changed history and won the Battle of Thermopylae."
A pillow lifted and flew from Jen's bed hitting Cheryl across her face. Jen looked up as the door closed--only Cheryl's laughter echoed in her mind.
If you were Jen or Cheryl neither of you would appreciate the humor in the dialogue. Your reader sits on the outside and discovers the humor. They might even smile or laugh. With the popular movie THE 300, still fresh in the minds of moviegoers, it was a natural choice for Cheryl to dream of winning that impossible battle. This theme (Cheryl winning the battle of Thermopylae), is mentioned several more times, much to Jen's annoyance.
The question is, do you employ humor in your novel, and if not, why? Examples are welcome.