Creating an Ironic Tone in Your Fiction

This post, by Jack Smith, originally appeared as a guest post on Elizabeth Spann Craig’s site on 12/9/13.

Let’s say you want to create an ironic tone in a story or novel—it’s just needed.

First off, what is tone? On the one hand, we might say that it’s the apparent attitude of the narrator toward the characters and the world they people. But it should also be said that everything in a fictional work relates in some way to the tone. If every character in your story drives crazily and exceeds the speed limit, this will certainly affect the tone. If all the clocks are off twenty minutes, this will too.

To create the right tone, you need to think about character actions, dialogue, and setting. All of these will affect the tone of your story or novel. But you also need to attend to matters of style.

Being something of an iconoclast, I tend to go for irony. An ironic tone is, of course, the right tone for satire—which is my usual medium.

And so when I’m thinking about creating an ironic tone in my work, I find myself—and this tends to happen as I write—depending on the following useful tools:

1. Diction—words that create a witty, humorous tone

2. Irony and Paradox—both deal with contradiction, the first with the gap between what you expect and what you get; the second with apparent contradiction.


Click here to read the rest of the post on Elizabeth Spann Craig’s site.


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