It must be fun to be a writer at the The Onion. You get paid to compose utterly ridiculous and hilarious satirical content based off the actual news on a daily basis, likely laughing your ass off the entire day.
But how does the process of writing those matter-of-fact and at times degrading headlines and stories actually work?
Tim Keck, who co-founded The Onion back in 1988 and sold it one year later, spoke at last week’s Seattle Interactive Conference and provided a five-step guide for writing an Onion article.
It is also handy for your LinkedIn profile, apparently.
“Take these techniques for Linkedin and you will super juice it,” said Keck, who went on to found an alternative Seattle weekly paper called The Stranger.
Without further ado, here’s how to write an Onion story:
1. Include The Elephant
For example, The Onion poked fun at former president Bill Clinton with the headline: “New President Feels Nation’s Pain, Breasts,”
2. Religion is Dumb
Keck described Scott Dikkers, founding editor of The Onion who created this 5-step formula, as a “huge atheist,” along with Keck himself. They decided to use this as fuel for their publication.
3. The Honest Character
“Nobody speaks honestly,” said Keck. So, The Onion decided to do it on behalf of everyone and then compile stories based on that.
4. The Big/Small Switcheroo
This step focuses on talking about big things in a small way, and vice versa.
5. Write Something As Mean As Possible
Finally, to write an Onion article, you can be as mean as possible. “This is something writers love.” . Keck said that since The Onion wasn’t really “subversive,” it needed something that gave the publication energy