In every meeting of the main hero and the main villain, there must be an intensification of the conflict. This holds true even in those stories that center around internal conflict (man vs. his own conscience, for example), or conflict against a force (like nature or a corrupt system).
You see, the reader unconsciously breaks the story into rounds (usually three), and expects each successive round to raise the stakes, with more on the line, more injuries received, and more suspense achieved.
The problem for the writer is: How do you intensify the conflict?
Pirate’s Wife never went anywhere, and it’s pretty cheesy, but I feel it is important to mention here the concept of recycling. Pirate’s Wife is, I believe, the first story I recycled. Years later, when I was sixteen, I wrote The Mask of Taranaz, that reused the idea of a pirate’s son who tries to escape from the pirating lifestyle, and ends up doing so while rescuing a captive woman.
Don’t be afraid to repeat a story, or to take bits and pieces from an old story and create an entirely new story out of it. If an idea is good enough to use twice, it’s worth reworking until it shines. That’s why it’s good to keep records and copies of your old stories. You never know what might capture your interest and revive an old spark. Let those small beginnings continue to give to you through the future.
I have always found humorous writing difficult. When I first read the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, my attempts to replicate his comic songs and characters resulted in unimpressive sludge. Even today, when I read Gillian Bronte Adam's delightfully light-hearted posts, I wish I could write like that.
So how does one write winning humor?
Given that I'm not all that successful at it, my opinion may be unhelpful, but I believe there may be some small merit in "experience by failure." With that said, here are three ways to approach writing humor.