Linda’s Blog

May 4th

Just thought I’d write about SARCASM and IRONY this week. Can’t think what brought those to mind. But I have read a few blogs and comments that disagree with each other as to what the two words mean and how they are used in the English language.

This is how I see it:

IRONY : a figure of speech in which a situation or event is deliberately contrary to what is expected; often used for humorous or emphatic effect.

Examples of irony:
A police station is robbed.
A marriage guidance counsellor gets divorced.
A financial advisor loses all his money.
A car parked in front of a No Parking sign.
Abraham Lincoln; The ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice: She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me.
Shakespeare’s Juliet, speaking of Romeo: Go ask his name: if he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed.

(The three examples above are examples of ironic foreshadowing, when something is commented upon with the assumption that it will never happen)

SARCASM : is a bitter or wounding remark, deliberately made, that means the opposite to what is said or written. Sarcasm is always intended to be hurtful, mocking or cynical.

When someone says something that is obvious: Oh, Sherlock! I’d never have thought of that.
When someone is wearing old, tattered clothes at a posh do: I see you dressed for the occasion.
When someone makes a mistake, or trips. Oh, well done!

If you want one of your characters to be fond of sarcasm, be careful: sarcasm rarely works well on the page (or in press conferences). That’s because you cannot be sure that your audience will recognise the sarcasm. On paper, it looks like a plain statement, unless you add he said sarcastically (or explain that’s what you were doing).

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I had a great Zoom meeting with one of my writing classes last week. There were only four of us and, due to technical difficulties, one had to join in on the phone for part of the time. It was really good to see everyone again, to read such entertaining and different pieces, and to share our critiques. I think we all felt it was going to encourage us to keep writing during lock-down. Thank you for arranging it, B. Looking forward to the next one.

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Thank you for your response to my request last week for what gets you writing. Quite a number said they respond well to pictures, particularly of people. They have something in front of then to focus on, to decide what that person wants. And the other idea that came up a few times was sitting in a café watching passers-by, imagining who they were, where they were going, what they wanted. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can do too much of at the moment but when we can, definitely something to try.

In the meantime, please keep safe and healthy, and carry on writing.

best wishes


One thought on “Linda’s Blog

  1. I like the comment on sarcasm, that you can’t be sure your audience gets it. This was Trump’s excuse last week that he was being sarcastic when suggesting that disinfectant injections might cure coronavirus. It seems best to stick to irony.


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