WHAT YOU'LL FIND ON THIS BLOG

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Evidence that there's no better place than this blog to get advice about writing


How to write satirical articles by U.N.Published

She was trying to resist visiting Fran's blog for advice on writing,  in case she came across
pictures of dead frogs or bushy eyebrows, but she knew she'd have to give in eventually.


I’ve been writing satirical articles for a while now.  I’m hoping, some day, to get one of them into print.  But I know you’ll benefit from my years of experience.  So, here are my top tips.

1. If you want to write a satirical article, put pen to paper and let it flow.  You feel strongly about something?  Then forget all that rubbish about planning and structuring (yawn, yawn).  Who’s got time for that when there are politicians to poke fun at and society to slander?  I see it as a kind of therapy.  When I’ve had a good old bash at someone, I feel so much better.  And I wouldn’t dream of going back and changing anything, even if editors ask me to, which they often do.  What’s on that page is pure, unadulterated passion, and it’s going to stay. 

2. Don’t worry about all that libel and slander rot.  Look, satire is controversial.  You’re bound to upset people.  You might as well do it properly.  And anyway, making the odd accusation that you can’t prove saves you time researching what really happened and who really said what and all those tiresome details which hold up the whole process.  Use your imagination; that’s what we writers do, isn’t it?  Any editor who asks you to withdraw the more creative elements of your piece needs to broaden his idea of what real satire is.   

3. You’ve probably heard the old advice about keeping to the point.  Yeah, well, that’s beginners’ stuff when it comes to satire.  You’re grown up now – you have opinions, feelings, things to say.  Digressions and interesting asides will stop you from sounding boring.  So, don’t worry about trying to link your ideas too strongly; no one will expect flowing prose from someone as opinionated as you are.  When editors use words like ‘rambling’ and ‘incoherent’ in their feedback to you, don’t take it personally.  I haven’t, and I’ve had thirty-nine say it to me.

4. I love exaggerating.  Some say you can’t over-use exaggeration otherwise you don’t sound convincing.  But what’s the point in exaggerating carefully?  There’s no benefit in having a tool if you can’t use it.  Just tip-toeing around the issue isn’t proper satire.    I think a good satirical article should have a trillion examples of exaggeration to be effective.  When I get one published, and I will, because I’m the best satirist in the world, you’ll see what I mean.



5. We’ve all done those creative writing courses (I’ve done thirty-three) where they trot out the old clichés like ‘less is more’ and ‘trust your reader’.  That’s why they reckon understatement and subtlety are vital if you’re writing satire.  Well, understatement and subtlety, my arse.  Everyone’s just scared these days to voice their opinion because of all that political correctness garbage.  No one’s ever going to misunderstand me, except some editors, it seems.

6.  An editor once said to me (well, he didn’t exactly say it as he’s refused to speak to me personally, but he wrote it in the fourteen rejection letters) that I needed to prove why I was qualified to write a satirical article.  He reckoned that insight into the world I was satirizing would give my article substance.  Well, all I can say is, I think my D in Economics at school gives me all the insight I need to write about the real reasons for the recession.  The D wasn’t my fault anyway.  I worked really hard in those classes (the ones they let me into). 

7. Ignore people who say you shouldn’t get personal.  They’re losers.  If you’re going to satirise some politician’s ideas, then prove that he’s a real idiot and find out something salacious about his private life.  I found this especially useful once when I was writing about a politician but, frankly, found his ideas rather complicated.  It was much easier to look up what the tabloids said about his wife and put that in to pad out the article.  I increased it from 30 to 300 words that way and the editor who slashed the last 270 words with a red pen obviously didn’t know expertise when he saw it.

8. Finally, onto irony.  (As you can see, I’m a bit of a poet as well as a satirist.)  I’m a plain-speaking sort of person, and I don’t see the point in irony.  If you’re going to say something, say it.  Don’t faff about, hiding your real meaning under some witty statement or other.  People say it’s clever and it’s one of the main satirical tools, but that’s only because they’re afraid to come straight out with it. I can be ironic when I want to, don’t get me wrong.  But I’ve tried it in my articles, and as the editors didn’t seem to notice the subtleties, I stopped.  It’s no good wasting your skills on people who don’t appreciate it. 

I hope my tips have been helpful and that you’ll get published soon.  If you do follow my advice, be warned that there are some editors around who don’t appreciate this kind of writing.  I can supply a list of these by email to any who’d like it, but bear in mind that downloading the file may take a while.


25 comments:

  1. I enjoyed that perfectly 'clear' call to write whatever' ye bleedin' want to write, rant! Well said!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just don't send me your lawyer's bills.

      Delete
  2. Fabulous. Your homage to the world of editing was particularly touching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Marty. I aim for heartfelt and emotional sincerity, as you no doubt realise.

      Delete
  3. Are you the Daily Mail’s main contributor? If not, I’d lie to know why not.

    Best bit of advice for satirical writers I’ve ever come across, all that namby-pamby p.c. stuff be blowed. Tell it like it is, girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not the main one, no. In fact, not even a non-main one. In fact, not one at all. Never mind. My turn will come.

      Delete
  4. Does that mean I can forget about correct spelling, punctuation and grammar too?? Hooray, I'm off to write a best seller!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forget it all, Linens. Everything you've been taught. Plenty are doing so and still making millions.

      Delete
  5. I shall do exactly as you say. After I get a good lawyer.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know his/her number. We may both need it.

      Delete
  6. Great tips. I'll be thinking about them the next time I sit down to write something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thinking about them, but not, I hope, putting them into practice ...!

      Delete
  7. You are the queen of satire, Fran. What a delightful way to start my day - my husband has just asked me what I'm laughing at. The editor cutting the 270 satirical words from your 300 word piece is priceless - write the book and I'll be the first to buy it. Long live satire!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Wendy. I'm glad I started your day well for you. Better than a slap in the face with a wet kipper, anyway.

      Delete
  8. Oh , if only it were that simple ... but I know that if I did , you'd still insist on Getting The Apostrophes Right .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes. I definitely would. Some thing's are sacred.

      Delete
  9. Old satirists never die. Their passing is always greatly exaggerated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha! Brilliant. I think I might put that above my desk. And maybe on my gravestone. Although I have already decided on my epitaph - 'she came, she saw, she conked out'.

      Delete
  10. Well, I'm surprised you haven't been published yet - home style books are very on-trend - I thought editors would lap up books about settees and ironing. Oh, wait a minute, satire and irony......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That made me laugh. Settees and ironing!

      Delete
  11. Trust your reader? Ha! I wouldn't trust my readers as far as I could con them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so cynical of you. I'm glad I'm never cynical like that ...

      Delete
  12. Always learn from you Fran. Off to write a black comedy after tea. Forget school-based dramas. They are so passe (can't find how to do an acute accent on the e - sorry)A great cheer-me-up read :) :) xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes, but WHAT do you learn?..... Not always helpful things, no doubt!

      Delete