Minus the obvious tropes like 4th-wall-breaking, pop culture references, or lampooning the source material that wouldn’t be usable in a serious novel, would you still be able to take a fantasy novel seriously if the characters talked and just generally interacted with each other like they were in an abridged series (i.e. TeamFourStar's DBZA)? Note: this assumes the series still has a coherent plot and the characters are still functional enough to develop as people and have arcs, even if some of them are a little over-the-top.

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Let me tell you what happened from someone who's tried it. I was once writing a series with the intent to make it seem like an abridged series but in written form. The characters were in a stereotypical fantasy plot but snarked at each other and poked fun at the (intentionally constructed) plot holes in their setting. They would make stupid banter with the villains and do dumb stuff that seemed more in-line with a Dungeons and Dragons campaign than a fantasy novel. The idea was to point out that a bunch of friends saving the world would be acting a lot more like the Z Fighters in DBZA, with their own in-jokes, quirks, making constant references to pop culture, and such (I mean, look at how people today talk), than the super-dour and grim depictions seen in most media that completely scrub any reference to contemporary culture to avoid lawsuits and dating the work.

It failed. Miserably.

After doing a plot autopsy I came to several conclusions as to why the story failed to work. First is that humor is hard. It's easy to write a story where everyone is serious but humor is so tailored to the individual that what one person finds funny another person will not. So it's hard to make jokes land. Team Four Star has even mentioned this in saying that jokes from early DBZA and Hellsing Abridged seem painfully awkward and politically incorrect now.

The second issue is I tried to balance horror tropes and general scariness and it failed miserably. The intent was that main characters would snark with/at the monsters but the monsters were still scary in their own right. The problem is that in stories you can be silly or serious, but not both at the same time. One usually comes at the cost of the other. This is why most stories have the comedy in the first act and the drama in the second. Some abridged series have balanced levity and seriousness. Cell in DBZA is the prime example. Many people have noticed that when Cell showed up on screen in DBZA the humor toned down and things became more serious. And even then Cell was only funny by engaging in a brand of humor so dark it made Mr. Popo take notice. Trying to do both will give your readers narrative whiplash.

Using an abridged-style tone throughout your series means your readers never get "engrossed" in the plot. The constant jokes relieve tension (which is why people IRL joke in stressful situations, in fact). The fact that the characters don't take the danger seriously means the readers never do as well. The characters could be in a legitimately life-and-death situation, but the fact they are cracking jokes means the audience never feels that way. On a related note this is a common criticism of the "Whedonesque" style seen in many Marvel movie, for the exact same reason. It deflates tension and makes the movie "bland". There is a time to be serious and a time to be funny. The audience looks to character behavior as a "cue" to inform them how they should feel.

Another aspect of why abridged series are often funny is because the original authors took them so seriously. Look at the four most popular abridged series of all time: Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Dragonball Z Abridged, Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, and Sword Art Online Abridged. What do all of them have in common? Their plots are all treated with utter seriousness by the original authors but they have a ton of goofy plot holes ("children's card games", power levels/episode progression, a lot in Sword Art Online) Heck, Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series made a running gag out of the fact that battles for the fate of the world, global geopolitics, and the creation of prestigious academies were determined by "children's card games". It's much harder to make something funny for its own merits compared to poking fun at what already exists. This is why people find true opinions expressed by crazy people online funny but knowingly fake opinions aren't. We find it funny not because of what's being said, but out of the idea that someone is nuts enough to legitimately believe this.


Depends on your definition of "serious." If you mean will people be engaged with the plot and have emotional reactions to the characters, that's a bit difficult to say. It really depends on what conflict you're creating to layer over the source material's narrative and how you write the characters. If you're going for the feel of the web-video genre, the reason it became popular was the genre making series "Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridge Series" relied on the target audience having working knowledge of the original series of "Yu-Gi-Oh" as dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment as well as various production notes and behind the scenes tidbits (for example, the heavy and ridiculous censurship used for American sensabilities, such as replacing situations where characters were essentially gambling with their lives in a "Children's Card Game" into a "less" threatening magical dimension which removes your soul from your body and tourtures it for eternity but doesn't actually kill you. Or the fact that the first arc was written before the actual rules for the featured game were written, thus creating impossible manuvers that work on very flimsy logics.). In addition, there is an alignment with the plots of both shows (such as the Kiba Corp Board of Directors becoming 4Kids Board of Directors, both of which have coorparte greed as a themed vice, but the later allows more of the staple meta-humor jokes to be made.).

Before Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridge series, there was an "proto-type" of the abridge series that came out called "Samurai Pizza Cats" which was the U.S. dub of the Japanese Anime "Kyattou Ninden Teyandee" (lit. Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee (Edo period slang that has no translation in English. Think of it as whatever the late 19th century vershion of shouting "Aaaargh" would be, which is how it was used in the series by the leader of the team)). As even Pizza Cat's own theme song notes, when the series was sent to U.S. distributors from Japan, the U.S. dub team found to their horror that someone in Japan had never bothered to send the scripts. While the original series was never intended to be taken serious, just by looking at the bizzare things that happen, the dubbing team put on their "writer" hats and started making a gag dub of the series that the rest of the non-japanese speaking world liked much better than the original series it was based off of. This pre-dated the Pokemon fueled Japanese anime invasion of the late 90s and 00s, much less youtube.

Even then, there are examples that aren't crossing language barriers. "The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged)" takes works of the Bard himself, and condenses them into a two-act play (the same format Shakespeares plays follow). Famously, Family Guy did three episodes that retold the original Star Wars Trilogy with a mocking yet loving tone, which did a much reduced telling to fit the tv format.


Hmm, I think it could work.

To say the truth, the way your formulated your questions is quite weird. I mean, there are hundred of examples you could have used, but you choose the abridged series, when there are a lot of books that parody and make an splendid work at making jabs at the inconcistencies and general stupidness of certain genres of fiction.

Actually, you just remind me this that did it with your typical fantasy world based on Tolkien, with a lot of drarfs as the main characters.

There was this scene pre-war with the chief/king making a great speech to rise the morale of his soldiers while riding his horse. However, being more "realistic", it happened the guy´s voice didnt carried away enough, so the characters were missunderstanding everything he was saying.

The king spoke of them fighting with everything and dying with honor, while the characters understood something like "He said we are all fucking die."

It was hilarious.

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