The Literature teacher whose classes I took once said that people did not know what irony really was. He taught a class on how Alanis Morissette sang a song called Ironic and yet she did not talk about one truly ironic thing in the song. “It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife,” is something she sang. That, my friends, is a coincidence and not ironic in a literal sense. Irony is much different than coincidences, I’ll have you believe.
What is irony? First of all there are two types of irony. The first is called dramatic and the second situational. This is something you learn about in literature class. Irony is a great technique to enrich your writing.
Dramatic irony is one literary technique. This is when the readers, and possibly some characters, know something that one or more of the other characters do not know. Take, for example, an antagonist setting up a trap for the protagonist. The protagonist may not know that this is a trap; thus, an example of dramatic irony. This is a great device to use for writers.
Situational irony is different. It occurs when there is a gap between expectation and reality. I had to brush up on these, or learn it for the first time. I can’t remember. At any rate, it is a literary device used to surprise and shock readers, as well as revealing important aspects of the story’s theme.
There you have it; what irony is as opposed to what it commonly known as irony. Coincidences are great, but they are not interchangeable terms with irony. There is dramatic and situational version of the literary device. Whatever device you choose, you will be enriching your writing by utilizing great literary techniques. Give irony a shot, true irony, next time you write something.