5 Things Every Writer Can Learn from Watching South Park

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

South Park has always been one of my favorite shows. Not only is it insane to the point of knee-weakening hilarity, but the writers have an almost innate sense of what their viewers want.

And, as I’ve continued to watch the show, I realized that there are lots of great lessons that almost every writer or blogger can learn from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They are not terribly profound or complicated things of course, but when used effectively they can make a big deal in one’s overall quality of writing. So, this past week (in lieu of studying) I’ve been rewatching season 13 and devoloped the following list: 

Lesson 1: Its okay to be low tech. 

One of the hallmark traits of South Park (especially in its earlier seasons) is their commitment to simple illustrations and graphics. The characters rarely change costumes and there is very little festive animation. Similarly, as a writer, sometimes doing less with technology can actually be a good thing. Whether that means scribbling on napkins when you forget your Mac, publishing a chapbook with your own supplies or doing a live poetry reading live instead of uploading it to YouTube, finding ways to cut back might actually be an avenue that furthers your creativity. Of course, low-tech is not for everyone. But its something you might want to consider if you’re looking to change it up. 

Lesson 2: Make Your Characters Unforgettable. 

There is no other character on television quite like Eric Cartman. Annoying though he may be, Cartman is probably the most memorable characters on the show. No matter if he’s singing a throaty rendition of Lady Gaga’s Pokerface, or stealing credit for the “Fishsticks” joke (favorite episode of ALL TIME), he always adds a certain humorous depth the group. Characters are what make a writer invincible. Well written, well defined characters can anchor readers to your essay help work, and can also make up (in some cases) for an underwhelming plot or so-so story line. Creating fresh, original characters with dialect and dialogue all their own can help your work stand out and bring a story to life. 

Lesson 3: Controversy is In. 

It’s almost impossible to hear the name “South Park” and not think of controversy. After all, who could forget the infamous dead celebrities airplane or the most recent, Mohamed-But-Santa-Claus-But-Not-Really-Death-Threats incident? South Park immerses itself, albeit jokingly, in the mishaps and political blunders of important people. Finding clever, offhand ways to poke fun at serious topics, can make you a hit with your readership, particularly if you are a nonfiction writer. Being a little controversial can go a long way. 

Lesson 4: Everyone is not going to like what you write. 

Although South Park is well received by most, some critics question if the show goes too far in trying to make their audience laugh. The creators of South Park, however, are fairly immune to media criticism and have been on the air for 14 seasons. As a writer, there will be times when your readers (or your mother, or your best friend, or your pastor), don’t like your writing. There will be stories that people think suck. There might be times when you will write about things that embarrass them, that offend them–that make them think. Not everyone is going to agree with your creative decisions all the time. So instead of stressing, take heart. Focus on your strengths, take risks and ignore the haters. 

Lesson 5: Find Your Niche and Keep them Hooked 

If there is one thing that South Park has done most effectively, it is finding their niche viewership and expanding from there. Finding your niche is an important skill that every writer or blogger should use when sharing their work with the masses. Define your audience. There is no use trying to force literary material down the throats of people who only want to read about vampires, or trying to make people who like tech read a blog about babysitting. Everyone wants something different out of their reading experience. Understanding who is most likely to be attracted to and receptive of the things you have to say will prevent let downs associated with a poorly matched audience.

Submitted: August 31, 2018

© Copyright 2021 charlottemason. All rights reserved.

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Joy Shaw

Nice write, Charlotte. Great to keep this in mind as we continue finding our writing niche. I really enjoyed the use of South Park to prove your point. Especially liked your reference to using alternatives to technology.

Fri, August 31st, 2018 3:28pm

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