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Wed May 04, 2011 7:57 am
Lava says...

I'm researching on satirical writing.
So, what are your tips?
Also; do you know any good satirical shorts that I can read?

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Wed May 04, 2011 3:40 pm
Kale says...

Satires are most effective when they read like what they are satirizing. Writing satires requires a subtle use of humor and irony, though you have to be careful not to be too subtle, otherwise no one will realize it's a satire. On the other end, too much humor and sarcasm makes for a very bitter and spiteful tone which only people who agree with the view can appreciate.

While satires poke fun at the ridiculousness of things, a good satire ideally does so while being enjoyable to both the people it is satirizing and the people who hold the satirical view.

Saki is one of my favorite writers of satire, alongside Mark Twain. Both of them wrote a lot of short satirical pieces which I encourage you to check out.
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Thu May 05, 2011 9:35 am
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Rydia says...

As Ky says, satire is all about getting the ballance right. Start off by satiring things that are really easy to handle, such as scientific theories of which you can always find one that is pointless or easily stretched to the point of being ridiculous. It's also good to look at things that already work as a paradox, but until you know what you're doing avoid things like religion as that is the one which most easily causes offence.

If you check out Flann O'Brien's 'The Third Policeman' you'll find an excellent example. He satirises mostly scientific theories and religion but it would be very hard for anyone to take offence because he does it so skillfully and with excellent ballance.
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Fri May 06, 2011 2:32 pm
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lilymoore says...

Another effective way to achieve satire is to blow something obscure out of proportion. Take for instance the Weekend Update series of Saturday Night Live. They take minor stories from the news and blow everything out of proportion to make it funny.

Situational irony is another great way to create a feeling of satire. Humor is definitely discoverable in most any situation. If you read any books by Christopher Moore, you’ll see that he uses a great deal of irony to make something comical. Kurt Vonnegut has a lot of funny stories (at least funny in my eyes).
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Tue May 17, 2011 6:57 am
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Snoink says...

I adore satire! :D

I approve of Kyllorac's pick of Saki! I love that storyteller!

Mark Twain is always excellent for that sort of stuff. His biblical satire had me in stitches when I read it... I think the librarians kicked me out because I was laughing so hard! So is Voltaire. I also adore everything that is James Thurber, seriously. Some of Thurber's references are a bit dated (because he was from a while back and referenced old presidents) but still, I love his unicorn story the best. The Unicorn in the Garden, I think it's called? Lovely short stories!

I also kind of adore George Bernard Shaw. In particular, my favorite play of his is, "Arms and the Man." I looooooove it so much!

Also... I'm not sure if you're going for the more serious stuff, but Jonathon Swift's "A Modest Proposal" may be worth reading, though you'll have to study Irish/English relations a bit for it to make sense. And! Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. YES.

So yeah. Have fun with this stuff! :D

As far as tips? Always be light-hearted. Never be heavy-handed with this sort of stuff. Make sure it's actually funny... if it doesn't make anybody giggle, you're probably not approaching it right. Also, some people should get enraged over this sort of stuff. It's a good thing!
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Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:04 pm
tigershark17 says...

Read George Orwell! He is invaluable when it comes to satirical writing. I would recommend Animal Farm for sure, and 1984. If you have trouble, don't worry, there's always Cliff's notes. :P Also, if you like, I can PM you an essay I wrote on Animal Farm, to show you some of the satirical devices Orwell uses and maybe give you some ideas. Anyway, he's great, and good luck with writing!

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Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:35 pm
Dynamo says...

I'm reminded of an old movie that's called Dr. Strangelove that has a lot to do with dark humor and satire. It might be something worth looking into if you're researching satire.
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Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:15 am
Gahks says...

I've written an entire course on satire, so hopefully I should be of help!

The first thing to note is what the definition of 'satire' actually is. Wikipedia, TV Tropes and the Oxford English Dictionary all have their own suggestions. In my opinion, what is most important is that satire is comedy with a moral purpose: it is designed to mend the world and rid it of the ills that the satirist sees as detrimental or reductive. To satirise, therefore, is to expose vices, follies or evils with the intention of holding them up to ridicule.

There are several techniques that satirists have at their disposal (you may like to call them 'weapons'). One of the most crucial is irony. The satirist may claim to favour an outlandish policy such as cannibalising poor and starving children so society will be rid of having to care for them, when really he is damning it with faint praise. The 'volte face' (pronounced 'volt farce', meaning an 'about turn' or 'about face') is another, which is a complete change of position. Thus a religious pastor may claim to treat homosexuals as equally as heterosexuals, but then in the next sentence denounce gay marriage. The volte face illustrates the pastor's hypocrisy, which the satirist would be attacking. Another example is the figure of the Pardoner is Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales": while he preaches that people should be virtuous, he profiteers by selling pardons to his churchgoers. This is ostensibly to get them to heaven, but really it's a greedy confidence trick perpetrated by the Pardoner! Parody (which must be distinguished from satire) can be used to exaggerate for effect. What is key is the fact that humour is used as a weapon against whatever is the target of satire and therefore the comedy has a subversive intention. As the Japanese like to put it, satire is "laughter with knives"!

The best way to learn how to be a satirist, as with being any kind of writer, is to read the kind of writing you're interested in. Saki has already been mentioned (I must check him out!), but I'd really recommend "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift as a starting point. That is a masterclass in satire. You can then move on to "Gulliver's Travels", also by Swift, Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" and dystopian fiction: "The Handmaid's Tale" (notable for being written by a female in a traditionally male-dominated genre), "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by Orwell and "Crash" by Ballard. For a really really crazily disturbing satire, watch "Weekend" by Jean-Luc Godard. I guarantee it will stay with you. Why do I mention dystopia? Well by definition a dystopia is a nightmare scenario where some particular vice or evil is taken to its logical conclusion. In doing so, said vice or evil is exaggerated to the extreme and thus it is ridiculed and satirised.

Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to pm me!

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