Having spent the last couple of years working as an editor and publisher of humor articles, essays and short stories, with a particular emphasis on spoof news, political humor, and of course satire, I have been forced to put a substantial amount of thought into what makes a good satire.
Of course there are no hard and fast rules about this kind of thing, especially as originality and creativity are probably two of the main things that I like to see. The only thing that you can really say for sure is that good satire either makes you laugh, or makes you think about things in a new way and somehow informs and educates you, and that the very best satire does both. Beyond that there are only general hints, tips and guidelines which may or may not be relevant to a specific piece of work, but which I hope you will find interesting and useful. So here are my thoughts on the matter.
The first thing which I would say is that although satirical writing often has some kind of a victim which / who is being mocked in some way, the best satire is not too cruel. I say this because it is a mistake that I often see in work which submitted to the site I work for. Someone who is obviously very passionate about a subject will write something that may well be insightful and may well have the potential to be made into a great article, but because they have focussed more on making a point and on putting someone or something down rather than on creating an entertaining read, and have failed as a result.
Another thing that I often see is someone who wants to put a joke in every line, and who wants a funny title even to the extent of including the punchline to the entire article within the title. Although lots of jokes can be great if you are good at one-liners and short snappy witticisms, it is not necessary and I certainly don’t recommend putting the punchline in the title as the rest of the article / essay is then often disappointing. Most of my personal favourites are the kind…