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Bathos

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[The Deerslayer's] pathos is funny.
—Mark Twain, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"

Bathos is a literary term, describing phrasing wherein utmost seriousness is coupled with base humour to create effect (in this case, usually comedy). The expression is used by TV Tropes to mean the same thing as "Narm." Badfic is often riddled with it.

Unintentional bathos can be caused by many things; for example:

  • Sudden changes in the tone of the narrative. The example given by the "Turkey City Lexicon" is "There will be bloody riots and savage insurrections leading to a violent popular uprising unless the regime starts being lots nicer about stuff";[1]
  • Use of inappropriate lyrics in a songfic, the classic example being "Every Breath You Take" being used as romantic (it's about stalking);
  • EXCESSIVE EMPHASIS!, which MAKES IT LOOK LIKE THE CHARACTERS ARE SHOUTING or ACTING REALLY BADLY!!!11!!!one!!!1;
  • Poorly-thought-out similes/metaphors or other descriptions;
  • Excessively blunt narration; for example, the infamous rape scene in "Legolas by laura": "and then one of the orcs striped her and then he raped her and then laura said 'go away you bastard'". Also applies to titles; for example, Chaser Wolf's "Shadow Rapes Matthias";
  • Prominently placed misspellings or malapropism, e.g. "My name is Salina Rose, AND I AM A PIRATATE!"[2] See "My Immortal" for many, many examples;
  • Unfortunate placing of a funny word;
  • Just plain silly phrasing. While you may have perfectly good reason to use them when being attacked, phrases like "Holy fucking shit!" are not conducive to gravitas.

References Edit

  1. "Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for SF Workshops" by Bruce Sterling, June 18, 2009
  2. "Salina Rose," chapter 4 by Nev1988, 2003

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