Five Tips for Writing Parody

Five Tips for Writing Parody

Matthew Gurteen

‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ by Seth Grahame-Smith, ‘Snowball’s Chance’ Book by John Reed, and ‘The Wind Done Gone’ by Alice Randall are three examples of excellent books that parody an original novel, namely ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, and ‘Gone With the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell. Humour is notoriously difficult to write in books. It’s source, however, is often found in classic literature and movies. It is no surprise that many writers turn to this media in order to prod and poke fun at it in parody. In this article, we will give you our top five tips on writing parody!

1. Know what a parody is

The most crucial step when writing a parody is, unsurprisingly, to know what a parody is! Many beginner writers begin a parody with angry comments and unfair accusations. This discontentment is not a parody, however. Instead, a parody requires an appreciation for the source material. The Oxford English Dictionary defines parody as ‘a literary composition modelled on and imitating another work, esp. a composition in which the characteristic style and themes of a particular author or genre are satirized by being applied to inappropriate or unlikely subjects, or are otherwise exaggerated for comic effect. In later use extended to similar imitations in other artistic fields, as music, painting, film, etc.’ A parody, then, is similar to a homage, only for comedic effect. Although it contains elements of satire, parody is not inherently satirical.

2. Carefully choose and examine the source

Now that you understand what parody is, you should also know that knowledge of the source is crucial. Before writing a parody, you should have read/watched your source text multiple times. You should examine the source critically, noting any discrepancies in the work.

3. Focus on a character

Another tip when writing a parody is to focus on a single character. The plot often springs from a singular character. Thus, parodying this character will lead to great comedy. This character this not have to be the protagonist of the original story. Instead, you might consider parodying from the perspective of a side character or villain.

4. Be aware of cliches

As well as focusing on a character, you should also pay attention to the cliches of the genre you are parodying. If the source is science fiction, for example, ask yourself, what are the common, overplayed devices of the plot? How can you transform these for comedic effect? There are several answers to these questions. It is essential to know the cliches, however.

5. Be concise

Our final tip for writing parodies is to keep your work concise. Comedy is most effective when it is short and snappy. When writing a parody, there is a danger of losing the comedic effect through the description. Only tell the reader what they need to know to understand the joke. The rest is irrelevant in parody.

If you follow these five tips, you are sure to have your reader laughing out loud. Have you ever written a parody before? Let us know how you found it in the comments below, along with your own tips for your fellow writers hoping to parody.