1. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    Sarcasm

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CyberFD, Jul 4, 2013.

    My MC can be sarcastic at times, especially if he's mad or irritated. My story doesn't run rampant with sarcastic phrases or anything at that extent, but throwing one in every now and then isn't a horrible thing, is it? Some of my favorite pieces of dialogue are when he gets sarcastic and it helps break the serious tone of my story, but I don't want to absolutely shatter it.
     
  2. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    That actually sounds good. Makes the MC seem more realistic at least.

    It also gives the reader a pause, a moment to catch their breath.
     
  3. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    I'm a big fan of sarcasm - I'm quite sarcastic myself. However, not everyone gets it. I'm worried that it will be even harder to get across in dialogue unless it's fairly obvious. Just a thought.
     
  4. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why would it be horrible? Is there some anti-sarcasm phenomenon going on in the book industry?

    I thought people in general like sarcastic characters :confused:

    Of course the writer him/herself has to know how to be sarcastic to be able to pull it off, but other than that, I see no problem with it.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sarcasm is fine. One thought, though--if you use it, you have to trust your reader to get it, and resist the temptation to spoon-feed the interpretation to him. If you find yourself with dialogue tags that are anything like, "...he said sarcastically..." then you're not showing that trust.
     
  6. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Too true. I suck at sarcasm, so my characters usually aren't that sarcastic, but I have one gal in one WIP who is kinda like my guinea pig: I'm teaching myself sarcasm via writing a sarcastic character. It's a process of trial & error, but in general, to come back to the OP's question, I've come to the understanding that the general consensus is that most people enjoy sarcastic characters if they are well done.
     
  7. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I totally second this. Some of my favorite books (the first 6 books of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher) are first-person with a very sarcastic, snarky main character. I love it. The plot is definitely serious and the MC can be serious but he is naturally sarcastic. Unfortunately, I don't think the author can write anything but that one character (and thus all other characters are pretty much the same in that regard), so I would find it a relief if only one (or two) of your characters were sarcastic SOBs.

    I, personally, think I am more sarcasm than carbon. :)
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Very good point.


    Try not to worry about it and go with it. I think it sounds like you've got the right idea about it. :)
     
  9. LonesomeGhost
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    LonesomeGhost New Member

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    I agree ^. Dresden (and Richard Kadrey's "Sandman Slim") are two of my favorites. They use a lot of sarcasm, and I love it. But like others have said, it needs to be written well so that the reader understands the joke. If it falls flat, or confuses them, they may put the book down.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Like i put down the first Dresden Files novel and still harbor seething resentment at the atrocity of a novel that Sandman Slim was? :D And I like sarcasm in general.

    Just goes to show that sarcasm isn't enough, that other qualities in the character also affect how the reader perceives them, whether or not they can stand being inside their heads. Or, how, despite an endearing grump of a character, other aspects of the story cause it to fall apart (for some readers).

    It did occur to me that a sarcastic first-person male POV can come off tiresome to some readers because of its abundance.

    And of course, very sarcastic characters can come off annoying if they haven't the badass chops to pull it off. That's why Jack O'Neill can be enjoyably sarcastic (albeit he's a TV character), but Sandman Slim veers dangerously close to my fist with his bratty remarks.

    So yeah, there are some pitfalls when setting out to write a deliberately snarky character. Whether or not it's amusing, also depends on the readers. You can't please 'em all, so better just focus on writing what pleases you.
     
  11. BUDDY GORGEOUS
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    BUDDY GORGEOUS Active Member

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    John Connolly Charlie Parker series I filled with great sarcastic lines. I can vaguely remember the first book where, I think, some FBI lads enter his apartment and irritate him with questions. One of them is looking at a book case so the MC says something like "...I'm sorry but I don't have any colour by numbers for you". I probably curled out a steaming turd on that cracking line but it's full of great sarcasm without taking away any of the darkness he's set out in the story. Same with Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Don Winslow or Raymond Chandler, there's nothing wrong with sarcasm or the amount in a story. Just don't blatantly over kill it.
     
  12. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    Yeah, my MC is a teenager. Most of us are generally sarcastic mother f*ckers. At least in the Magical Land of Ohio. :)

    Thank you for the feedback everyone! I'm going to use it all very well.
     
  13. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Have you seen Daria? Almost everything that comes out of her mouth is sarcasm. However, we do get moments of sincerity, vulnerability and insecurity from her also. These moments punctuate the fact that she uses sarcasm as a shield to protect her flaws from people. It makes her human and not just some one-dimensional teen, sassing her way through each episode.

    By the way, I'm not saying you need to replicate Daria. I'm just saying, understanding your character's psychology will let you know when and to what degree sarcasm will be appropriate.
     
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  14. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Make sure the sarcasm fits the situation and flows naturally with the story. Dont' force it. I am currently reading a book in which some of the lines of sarcasm simply don't play out well because they are misplaced or awkwardly written resulting in stilted conversations.
     
  15. -oz
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    -oz Active Member

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    One last piece of advice: don't worry about people not getting the sarcasm. There's a reason that the School for the Humor Impared doesn't exist.
     

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