Children use sarcasm to each other all the time. They hear it in films and on television, and then transfer their favourite characters’ expressions into their own way of speaking.
They’ll sigh and roll their eyes and tell their friends the most outrageous things, knowing the sarcasm will be picked up on and understood.
Because of this, you would be forgiven for thinking that they would easily realise when someone in a novel is using sarcasm, but this is not the case.
Tip 24 – How to Use Sarcasm
Children read exactly what is on the page and take the meaning literally, unless there are sufficient signals to the contrary.
Irony and sarcasm have to be clearly signposted so that your young readers are aware that the words are being used in a sarcastic way.
When you want your characters to be sarcastic it is necessary to show the personality of the speaker from the outset.
It isn’t going to work very well if someone who has been meek and mild all the way through the book suddenly becomes the queen of the one-liners halfway into the story.
On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to have a character who has been too timid to speak up throughout the novel, finally find the courage at the very end of the book to make one glorious put down directed at his or her impotent enemy.
If you decide to include sarcasm in your novel you must remember to signpost it well and use it sparingly.
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