Although I’ve been making fun of things since I learned how to talk, writing satire is a difficult process. What I have included here are five of my personal important tips on writing satire.
Local hipster and Starbucks barista decided that misspelling people’s names on cups and making subpar espresso shots was no longer for him. Instead, he is trading in his green apron for a world of shameless self-promotion and blogging endlessly about crap that doesn’t matter. He has encouraged his fellow hipster friends to submit a topic to his “jar-o-writing prompts.”
“I write for my community,” he says.
Some of his topics include:
- Music that doesn’t exist yet
- Fixed-gear bikes (gears are for conformists)
- How to brew beer in a bathtub
- 21 ways with kale
To ease into the “work-from-home” life, he has stocked his provisions with a couple half-racks of shitty beer, a couple kombucha starters, a $12 jar of artisan pickles, a cupboard full of Annie’s Mac and Cheese, Whole Foods brand ramen, and Sriracha sauce. When he needs to get out of the house, he will take up space in a local coffee shop where he would make himself look important with his used MacBook—he used his rent money to buy it. The irony is, he didn’t disclose that he installed Google AdSense on his blog.
1. Make a jar-o-writing prompts
Yes, even though I mocked it in my little story, I have a “jar-o-writing prompts.” And, yes, I solicit these prompts mostly from friends. It’s okay to put your own ideas in the jar once in a while, but you need to keep your audience in mind. Plus, when you involve your audience in the process, your work gets more attention because people want to see if their prompt gets featured.
Not only that, there is the element of surprise that can jumpstart your creativity. Though, prepare to be stumped. There are going to be times where you don’t know where to start. Like when I pulled out “lonely man in mother-in-law apartment” out of my jar. I don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation. I could be a creeper and try to spy on the man who lives in the casita in my backyard, but all I hear is bad techno music when I take my dog out to potty in the morning. There are two options in this case:
1. Abandon it. Sometimes it’s not meant to be.
2. Make the best out of it and try. Challenges make you a stronger writer. If it’s a bust, oh well. You tried.
2. Make fun of yourself
In one of my first satires that I published in my blog, I made fun of my experience going through a smoothie cleanse. (*whispers* Psst. Here it is.) I find the best material comes from personal experience. When you use personal experience, you are able to be more specific with ease. At times, the situation may not be something you have experienced, but is there another experience that can match it? For example, one of the prompts in my jar is “man irritated over the restaurant selections on a Sunday.” I don’t recall being irritated about this exact scenario, but I have been irritated over something stupid and exaggerated on it.
3. Use literary devices
Speaking of exaggeration, one of my other tips is to use literary devices such as hyperboles, understatement, similes, etc. (that stuff we learned in middle school language arts and wondered why we had to learn it). They simply help paint the picture of the scenario and brings the humor out of it. I don’t think every hipster has a cupboard full of Annie’s Mac and Cheese, nor did my cleanse bring mesmerizing waterfalls out of my bottom.
When you write satire, you are creating a mockery of something that could be a sensitive issue to someone. The things to keep in mind are that you can’t please everyone (just like customer service) and you cannot hold back. When you hold back, are you truly creating your personal best satire? A stand-up comedian that I met in Seattle told me that a well crafted joke or satire comes from understanding the situation.
Though, when it comes to dealing with members of the butthurt brigade, tread on these hurt feelings lightly. Be sympathetic and understanding to their feelings. The last thing you want is backlash and to lose audience members.
5. Ask for feedback, then blatantly self-promote
Like how I blatantly self-promote myself in this article? For real though…this is how you’ll get better as a satire writer. You need feedback to know if your style and approach is working, meaning: Is it funny?
If being self-conscious is an issue, here is what I did first. I asked two of my good friends, who are also writers with great senses of humor, for feedback. Then, I posted my blog on Facebook for good friends only. When I received feedback, I incorporated it in the entry, which is a must. Not incorporating feedback is like asking for advice then ignoring it. That crap is annoying! It goes back to dealing with the butthurt brigade. We risk losing audience members if we do this.
After getting over the hurdle of confidence, then we can flood our social media with our posts for everyone to view (or snicker at and ignore).