Breaking The Blocks: Satire

This is going to be a relatively quick post, because it’s a follow-up to last week’s post; different enough to be its own thing, but closely related enough that it can follow its immediate predecessor. Last week, I told you about a linguistic “stretching exercise” designed to break you out of the stifling rigidity of conventional thought. This week, I have another one for you.

Satire is a tried-and-true form of comedy; you’ve seen it, in various forms, since you were a kid. From Mad Magazine to Saturday Night Live to The Onion, it’s one of the go-to techniques to generate laughter for readers and viewers.

But if you’re here, if you’re reading this, you’re not just a reader or a viewer. (Yeah, you are those things, too, and should be — in fact, writers should be more voracious readers and viewers than anybody else, but I digress.)

Satire, like the ordered chaos which results from the last exercise, is built on the core principle of subverting convention. Except that in the case of satire, we follow convention almost to its expected conclusion before we kick over the apple cart to laugh at the mass of angry weasels that spill out and go tear-assing around the place knocking things over.

One of the single most ripe targets of satire I’ve found is the horoscope.

Let me provide a few examples of my own to demonstrate how I satirize horoscopes:

Each of these plays with expected wording, or expected spirit, or both, involved in a horoscope. And while readers find this amusing, that’s just a nice perk. For the writer, satire is a slightly more subtle and slightly more powerful form of linguistic stretching. With last week’s exercise in ordered chaos, you’re breaking free of cramps. With satire, you’re limbering up to keep the cramps at bay longer.

Give it a try and see how it works for you.

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