Satirical Writing

Satire in literature is a type of social commentary. Writers use exaggeration, irony, and other devices to poke fun of a particular leader, a social custom or tradition, or any other prevalent social figure or practice that they want to comment on and call into question.

Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose an can quite often be a form of constructive social criticism, where wit is used to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

Care however must be taken to create a piece of work that is not “ over the top” offensive and inaccurate, thus causing offence and taking away the humour, instead creating hatred aor aggravation.

The Four Techniques of Satire are:

  • Exaggeration. The first step to crafting a successful satire is figuring out what you want to exaggerate.
  • Incongruity.
  • Reversal.
  • Parody.


The first step to crafting a successful satire is figuring out what you want to exaggerate. This can be subtle and on a smaller scale, such as in character depictions or in a character’s inner world, or it can be as full-on as exaggerating settings, even the whole narrative scenario itself. 

Exaggeration entails making a situation or person look better or worse than they are by overstating or understating certain characteristics beyond reality. Exaggeration typically considers a person's or situation's real characteristics and makes them seem ridiculous or far-fetched


The second technique of satire is all about inserting things into out-of-place environments, comparing them, in a way which makes them appear absurd. This can be achieved by simply by including superficial details which defy logic, does not make sense, or tests the reader’s idea of plausibility.

Incongruity is an often absurd method of satire where you present something unexpected into an otherwise normal scene or story. Comic writers commonly use this style where the actions of characters in a scene might seem normal, but the caption displays incongruity


The third technique of satire is reversal, in which an author subverts a situation to present an inversion of how things really are back to the reader. It usually involves a story which presents the opposite of normalcy (as we understand it) in order to make a satirical point about it.

To present things that are either absurd or out of place in their surroundings. It usually involves a story which presents the opposite of normalcy (as we understand it) in order to make a satirical point about it..


The fourth technique of satire is parody (ridicule), which relies upon the art of imitation to ape (imitate/ridicule) another author’s style, lampoon (publicly criticize) aspects of an already-existing story or taking the best stylistic aspects from another author’s work of literature in order to pick holes in it.
The main problem with parodies is how they end up essentially being a poorer copy rather than aiming to be truly original. 

Your little sister puts on your father’s big shoes and stomps around in them, saying, “I need to make a business call. I am a very busy, very important businessman!”

Satirical essays use humour, hyperbole (exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally) and irony to criticise or poke fun at a subject.

They can be aimed at many things – including politics, celebrities or current events.
While satirical essays primarily there to entertain readers, the satire writer often seeks to provide relevant, useful, eye-opening information, that may otherwise be overlooked.
Understanding the techniques used for the style and the purpose of the content can help in writing satirically.

There are basically four steps involved:

Step 1

Choose a topic. Look for subject matter that is already ironic or ridiculous. Much like a caricature artist exaggerates the facial features of his subject, your goal is to bring out the absurdity in your topic. You might try looking in your Sunday paper at political cartoons to get ideas for subject matter.

Step 2

Use a hyperbole to make your point. (A hyperbole is a literary device that exaggerates facts. It does not, however, mean lying). You need to stick to the facts, but use ahyperbole creatively to highlight the absurdity behind them. An example line might be, "Andy Garbo drinks tons of coffee a year to make sure he keeps his stock in Zarraffas (a coffee shop chain) profitable." This is obvious hyperbole, but it's used to make an exaggerated point about Andy.

Step 3

Use irony to present your ideas. (Irony is the use of words or phrases to express the opposite of what you truly mean, or to express an incongruity - something incompatible) between what someone expects and what actually occurs. A simple example of irony would be, "He's kind enough to steal from the poor to feed his pockets." The use of "kind enough" turns this into an ironic statement. Irony is a good tool to use in satirical essays because its sarcastic tone.

Step 4

Aim for humour in your satirical essays. Not all satire is funny, but by pointing out the ridiculous elements of your topic, you can often bring people over to your way of thinking or make your point quicker. A lot of readers respond faster to humour, than straight commentaries.

An example of satirical writing:

Maybe if weather forcasters looked out the window occasionally they would get the real picture of what the weather is actually doing! (The meaning here is it's all good to look at charts an dpredictions, but what is actually happening does also help too!)