FRANK TIPS FOR WRITING SATIRE – by Frank J. Fleming
It’s me, Frank J. Fleming. I’ve written a lot of satire. I started writing at my blog,
IMAO.us, (though now that’s mainly run by Harvey, who is either a completely different person or a pseudonym of mine — I’ve never been clear on that) and I now write at
The Babylon Bee and have written a comedic science fiction novel, Hellbender,
which has a lot of satire in it. So I thought I’d give tips on how to write satire, since everyone other than me is terrible at it.
FRANK TIPS FOR WRITING SATIRE – by Frank J. Fleming
a good satirical headline.
The key to satire — especially political satire — is a great satirical headline. This is so easy if you follow a simple formula.
First, pick a subject your audience doesn’t like. Let’s say you all don’t like Bernie Sanders (even though he’s adorable). Next, grab a headline for him. For instance, “Bernie Sanders Promises to Pay Back Everyone’s Student Loans.” Now, take that normal headline
and simply add to the end of it, “What an Idiot.”
“Bernie Sanders Promises to Pay Back Everyone’s Student Loans; What an Idiot”
Now you have a satirical headline that’s going to be a big hit. Since you know your audience doesn’t like Bernie Sanders, they’ll all read the headline and say, “He is an idiot! This is funny because it’s true!”
Just make sure you’re making fun of someone your audience doesn’t like, because if you make fun of someone they do like, that’s what you call “bad satire.” And then you’re going to get mobbed and probably doxxed. A good strategy for that is to own multiple houses.
Ha, you idiots; I wasn’t even at that house you doxxed! That was a burner home!
Fill up the rest of the article.
After the headline, you need to write the rest of the satirical article, because that’s the custom. But I’ll give you a tip: No one reads the rest of the article. When you have a great headline — especially combined with a funny picture — everyone just laughs
at that and moves on. Kids these days don’t have attention spans for big blocks of text, what with their video games and YouTubes and boom boxes. So don’t spend any time on the rest of the article. Just do what I do and mainly fill it up with text you cut and pasted from random Wikipedia articles.
Both males and females grow to an adult length of 24 to 40 cm (9.4 to 15.7 in) from snout to vent, with a total length of 30 to 74 cm (12 to 29 in), making them the third-largest aquatic salamander species in the world (after the Chinese giant salamander and the
Japanese giant salamander, respectively) and the largest amphibian in North America, although this length is rivaled by the reticulated siren of the southeastern United States (although the siren is much leaner in build).
Find a good source for jokes.
People are always asking me, “How do you come up with your ideas?” Well, it’s easy. When big news breaks, I just log on to Twitter and see what people are saying about it. And then I steal any jokes people have that I think are funny.
I really think Twitter is the best place to steal jokes. People are just constantly putting jokes out for free, and you can grab as many as you want and no one can stop you. I mean, a couple of times the police have come to my house and said, “We’ve gotten reports you’ve been stealing tweets.” But they never have a warrant. So I just say I’ve never heard of Twitter and tell them to scram. I can see from the look in their eyes they really want to shoot me and plant drugs on me, but so far it hasn’t happened.
Still, to protect yourself, you may want to make a dummy account on Twitter to use for logging on and stealing jokes. A good way to make a pseudonym is to take your first and last name and then just switch the first letters of each. For instance, if your name is
“Sarah Hoyt,” your pseudonym will be “Harah Soyt.” No one will know. Unfortunately, that technique doesn’t work for me (or most comic book characters), so I’m kinda stuck.
Explain the joke.
One big problem with satire is people not understanding something is satire. This is a big problem with all the people who work at Snopes. They’re always trying to disprove satire I write and report me, which is scary, because Trump just passed a law that will
deport anyone accused of making fake news.
I don’t want to get deported to Mexico! I mean, it sounds trivial to sneak back into the U.S., but still, that seems like a bit of a walk.
So make sure you explain your joke well so everyone gets that it’s a joke. For example, let’s say we think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is dumb (even though she’s delightful) and want to write satire about it. We do something like this:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Accidentally Strangles Herself While Tying Her Shoes Because She Is So Dumb [This Is a Joke and Not a Thing That Really Happened]
The proceeding is a satirical joke and not a real thing that happened.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to tie her shoes the other day — a thing even a child can do but is hard for her because she is dumb — and instead accidentally strangled herself on account of her stupidity. And we’re all glad she’s dead because she’s a socialist.
The preceding was satire. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not dead and whether or not she is a stupid is an opinion reasonable people can disagree on.
There. Now we have a very well written piece of satire that makes itself very clear as to what it’s doing. We kept emphasizing that AOC was dumb so people understood the point of the article. And we also made it clear it was just a joke so no one would get confused
and no government agents would break into our house in the middle of the night and shove us into a box and ship us out of the country.
Be smart in choosing your targets.
There’s a saying in comedy: “Always punch down.” That means choose targets smaller and weaker than yourself. There’s a good reason for this. If you only pick on the poor and powerless, you’re never going to get sued for slander because they don’t have the money for that. It’s just common sense. It also reduces the cost of your satire insurance (oh yeah — buy satire insurance in case you get sued or need money to fight a deportation hearing).
The best targets for satire are the Amish. They don’t even have internet to know anyone is making fun of them. It’s completely riskless. I mean, they’ll always wonder why everyone is pointing and laughing at them when they ride around in their buggies, but they’ll never figure it out. The worst target for satire is President Trump. He is big and powerful and has nukes. Plus, I think making fun of him hurts his feelings.
Well, those are all my tips for writing satire. Or, better yet, just buy my hilarious new science fiction novel Hellbender and read that. I broke my own rule and wrote stuff in it other than just the title. And if you don’t like it, I’ve purchased five homes spread out across the country, so you’ll never find me.
Doug wasn’t sure whether he should trust Satan.
The red flag was that he said he was Satan. But the deal was good: Listen to Satan’s story in exchange for some donuts. And Doug only half-fulfilled his part of the bargain.
But maybe he should have listened better, because during his friend Bryce’s next scheme (theft with light to moderate treason—the usual), Doug and the rest of his friends—Lulu (the fun one) and Charlene (the not fun one)—end up with a powerful artifact, a small metal cube with world-ending power that Lulu decorated with bunnies. And now everyone wants the bunny cube, which means Doug, Bryce, Lulu, and Charlene are being pursued by an insane supermodel general, an army of sadists, a vast criminal organization, a smaller, more-in-startup-mode criminal organization, and an unstoppable killing machine—the worst kind of killing machine.
Doug and his friends may be a bunch of losers who aren’t particularly smart or good at anything, but they have one thing going for them: a really cool name for their mercenary group. And now it’s up to Hellbender to save the world—well, what’s left of it. It’s pretty ruined and war-torn already. But, you know, they live there, so they kind of need it.
It’s a mess, but that’s what you get for listening to Satan. Or half-listening.