Tuesday, 11 January 2011


I've spent the last few hours writing what is essentially a parody, so I'd like to share a few tips that I picked up along the way. Mostly by getting them wrong:

  1. Parodies and references must be to things people will recognise, otherwise they are just slightly stupid and out of place comments. For which see my Orville the Duck references in the middle of a piece about the Wright brothers ('I wish I could fly, up in the sky, but I can't'). Only brits of the right age range will get this one.
  2. They cannot replace the story. A series of references in a row do not make a narrative arc. There doesn't have to be much there, but there does have to be something.
  3. You need to identify the key elements. What are the main elements of sword and sorcery? Heroes in furry underwear, villainous sorcerors. Things. Magic weapons. Damsels in distress. Only once you know what the key features are can you make fun of them.
  4. Exagerate. Make things larger than life, until small elements in the normal version play huge roles in the parody.
  5. Be logical. Applying a sort of strict logic to things can be fun. What would really happen in a fairytale where the princess had to let down her hair for someone to climb up? It would break. So why doesn't it? Really good conditioner, maybe, giving Rapunzel a hair product endorsement somewhere towards the end?
  6. Feel free to be wildly inappropriate with setting or context. Noire with jokes in is one thing. Tudor stuff that just happens to echo Philip Marlowe is quite another.
  7. Don't settle for just being clever. I do this far too much, and must stop. Funny is better than clever.
  8. There need to be jokes from both sides of the fence. If you're slamming genres together in the parody, don't let all the jokes be from one of them. The above piece manages to play on the traditional noire stuff, certainly, but also does jokes about medieval consanguity laws. I know. It's funnier than it sounds.
  9. Expected and unexpected endings. Sometimes, you have to achieve the expected ending for the genre in an unexpected way. Sometimes, you have to undercut it while still producing something narratively satisfying. For the one above, history buffs who read the piece will know what is going to happen, except that the demands of the imposed genre mean that it doesn't happen in nearly the accepted way.

1 comment:

Raquel Byrnes said...

Okay, I love and hate that you often make me stop to Google words in your posts. Consanguity Laws? I never needed to know that until now...