The world would be a different place without lampshades ...
We would turn on the lights and be blinded whenever we looked at the bulb, no matter the wattage. We wouldn't have that cool dimming effect either, which adds atmosphere to the room, depending on its color. Indeed, without lampshades, the world would be way too bright.
Oh, that's right - that's not the kind of lampshade I wanted to talk about. There is an entirely different kind of lampshade, but it's for more than just a 60 Watt bulb ...
It's for writing!
A few months back, when I shared the beginning chapters of Undead to my critique group, one of my partners commented on a part that they really liked, following up his remarks with these words ...
"You lampshaded that really well!"
I smiled and thought .... what the Eisenhower is a lampshade?
That may not have been my actual thought, but it's close enough.
What is a lampshade when it's applied to writing?
I looked around for a while and found a lot of interpretations. Some people had their own idea of what it meant. Others said it was best to avoid them altogether. Such absolutes. What am I, a Sith?
Eventually, I came across a definition that made sense:
Lampshading: To intentionally call attention to the improbable, incongruent, or clichéd nature of an element or situation featured in a work of fiction within the work itself - from wiktionary.
In other words, it's a way to deal with any part of your story that would cause your audience to drop their suspension of disbelief. If something happens that does not seem possible, or if some kind of trope presents itself in the story, all the character(s) have to do is point it out for a second. We laugh (or nod) and we keep reading.
Want an example? Take this from one of my favorite video games:
Luke: "I sense a disturbance in the force ..."
Kyle: "You always sense a disturbance in the force ..."
Oh, Kyle - such a kidder!
That was a rather obvious example, by the way ...
Upon finding this out, I realized just how lampshaded my WiP is - almost the whole thing, and I didn't even realize I was doing this!
It is in the first person, and I did want it to be a kind of satire on the zombie subgenre, like Kung Fu Panda is to the material art of Kung Fu, only with kids and not talking animals. So my main character points things out that happens to them and sometimes he goes, "hey, I saw that in a movie once!" among other things. My guess is, because this story is told in the first person, and there's humor involved, the lampshades naturally found their way in there!
Is this a problem? Not really. It could be if I overuse the lampshade, but at the same time, I was using them in a subtle way, so they're not obvious or overused. Or so I hope. Only Beta readers will tell.
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Like any writer's trick, we have to decide when it's appropriate to use. Will it enhance the story? Again, this is all up to us as writers, and knowing the tools of the trade will help us churn out quality work the first time around. This is but another screwdriver in the big box of writer's tools.
What do you think of the lampshading technique? Have you used it without knowing it? Where else have you seen it?
And so ends February! That went by quick, didn't it? I'm taking the rest of the month off to focus on writing and life managing, but be sure to visit on the 27th, when I will introduce our next Knight of the Cosmic Table! It'll be a good one, so don't miss it!
I'll be back to normal blogging status on March 4th.Until then, keep it real, keep being awesome, and keep on writing!
Update: I almost forgot! The randomly selected winner of a signed Larry Correia book goes to Al Diaz! Congratulations, Senior Dragon! Contact me with your address and I'll have it mailed to you promptly.
I'm David, and here's that picture with Edward I promised ...