Satire and Irony

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What is the opposite of irony?

I’ll tell you at the end. Ha! Wait for it.

I am jumping right into this section. There is a lot to cover, so go grab a fresh cuppa and a nibble. Don’t forget your copy of The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. Meet me out on the reading rug and turn to page131. Tuck in, friends.

Satire             noun

  1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
  2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
  3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.

Irony           noun, plural i·ro·nies.

  1. the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.
  2. Literature.

*a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

*(especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.


Why did I drop a dictionary page on you? I did that so you could see the difference between the two words. Satire is all about sarcasm and ridicule where irony is about things not turning out the way it was anticipated. This is important when drafting a story. Thank you dictionary.com for the help with this.

Now, both concepts tend to be used together. Satire is the comedy of beliefs, like how an entire society functions. While irony falls into a form of story logic, where your character gets the opposite of what they want. Irony, throughout a story, can become a pattern that connects actions. Satire is the section that makes your readers laugh. It’s all about mockery or parody in the story.  

Using the satire-irony form, you make your moral arguments through contrast. The steps go something like this:

  • At some point early in the story, a character will describe the social system within the story. The hero lives within this system.
  • The hero has extraordinarily strong beliefs within this system. He/she/they pursues a goal withing the construct. Business/Romance
  • An opponent within the society, who has equal beliefs, goes after the same goal.
  • As the hero and opponent go after the same goal, their stance causes them to take destructive actions.
  • The actions in the middle of the story, that causes a clash between the hero and opponent, is their belief that they are acting morally within the social system.
  • Within that battle, the hypocrisy begins to show itself on both sides.
  • The hero has a self-revelation usually causing them to reevaluate their beliefs in the system.
  • The hero, or a character close to them, undermines the self-revelation showing the self-revelation has not truly been learned.
  • The hero takes moral action, but it has little to no effect on the system.
  • There is a growth in friendship or love within the story. This makes the reader feel the coupling will form a stronger system within themselves- with little effect on the system as a whole.
Could I say system enough in this section? Brace yourself.

** This format is used in stories like: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Wedding Crashers, M*A*S*H, and more.

Black Comedy

Black comedy points out the illogic of the system. It is the George Carlin of comedy. This is the humor of the failures of the system. The illogic of how things ‘work’ and how people get caught up in the inner workings. The key to this concept is you, as the writer, withhold the anticipated self-revelation from your hero. This is how it works:

  • A character explains the rules of the system working within the plotline. (See? More system. Argh.)
  • The hero, or a collection of characters, goes after a character to either kill or destroy them.
  • Each believes what they are doing is the right thing, but it is illogical.
  • The opponent competes for the same goal but also gives insane justifications.
  • One person, usually the ally, points out that nothing makes sense. This person screams at the top of their lungs, but no one stops to listen to the truth.
  • All the characters venture into extreme actions to reach their goals.
  • The response of the characters leads to a negative result such as death and destruction for the entirety of the cast.
  • The battles offer severe consequences for everyone. All while they each believe they are right.
  • No one has a self-revelation, not even the hero, even though they should.
  • Characters are battered and bruised but will continue on the journey to reach the end goal.

This is a difficult format to work with and so easy to get wrong. Look at stories like: Goodfellas, Wag the Dog, Catch-22, Prizzi’s Honor, and more.

Wow- that was a hard section to maneuver through. I hope it helped. I do suggest you read through this section on your own to get a better grasp of what Mr. Truby is trying to teach us.

We will jump into Combining Moral Arguments in our next episode of:

New Ink. Used Ideas. How much weight has Ticia lost/gained?

Until next time…

Wrinkly. The opposite of irony is wrinkly. Bam! Bad dad joke of the day.

Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.

Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.

Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.

I’m always looking for new friends!

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Published by Ticia Rani

I am...interesting. I am a writer, dreamer, mom, wife, veteran, friend, villain, and the wearer of many hats, but I don't look good in hats- go figure. I LOVE TO WRITE. I want to tell stories. I want to make you laugh, cry, and scare the crap out of you, and make you ask "why the hell did you do that?" I want to make you cheer my characters on or want to shake the crap out of them for things they say and/or do. I want to bring you along for the ride. Ready? Set?...READ!!!

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