That’s right, all you have to do sometimes is poke a bit of fun at things. After all, due to the wide variety of books and stories available to us - thanks to libraries, the internet, and bookstores - finding common and overused plot lines, characters, and elements is pretty easy. And while it may seem like you’re just adding a new element to the story instead of originality, proper satire or parody actually takes a fair bit of work.
For example, take one of the most classic of plots: The hero goes to slay the monster. Seems like satirizing or parodying it would be simple, as you could make the hero someone unexpected, like a baker, and the monster a giant cute animal, but then all you have is a children’s story. I mean, you could still make the story more mature, but you haven’t satirized or parodied it by simply having those two funny, unexpected characters.
Good satire or parody is more than being witty - though it does help. Here are a few more things you could do with the monster slaying plot: The hero discovers the monster is intelligent and refutes the hero’s claims that its dangerous and must die. Have the hero discover that the monster became a menace as a result of the surrounding villages hunting all its food. Or the hero is a monster seeking to kill a human warrior that has been killing many of its kind. That is just what can be done with the plot; fleshing out the story, like the journey to find the monster, offers plenty of opportunity for making fun of other aspects of the story.
Two experts on this style of writing are Terry Pratchett, his series Discworld that parodies the hell out of fantasy stories, and Douglas Adams, his series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy does the same to science fiction.
So remember, everything can be satirized or parodied, and while maybe humour is not your forte or your jokes sink faster than rocks, you don’t need just those things to satirize or parody concepts and themes. Having characters react realistically to obstacles and situations or playing out a quest or problem to the logical extreme are ways to satirize or parody something. And know if you can pull it off well, you will have produced something very funny and original.
Derek Glew is a student at Algonquin College and is in the Professional Writing program. Aspires to be a professional fiction writer, likes to play video games both new and old and loves a good story in any form of media. A bit of an introverted dreamer, he hopes to be published someday.