What do you call techniques in the same category as "breaking the fourth wall"? Breaking the fourth wall, is when characters in a fiction refers to things in the real world. What are similar techniques in the same category called? Are they called "meta" techniques? I recall there was a word, but I am not sure if "meta" is the correct word.


1 Answer 1


I would describe "breaking the fourth wall" as the fictional world showing awareness of the audience (and/or that it itself is a fiction), for example by having a character address the audience.

Other related techniques that come to mind include:

  • cameo appearances by people that don't particularly make sense in the fictional world, such as the director of the film itself

  • allusions that may make (often humorous or ironic) sense to the audience from a context that doesn't really make sense in the fictional world

  • soliloquy

  • lampshading

"Meta" is a very general term, but it is sometimes lazily informally used to mean self-reference in a vague way (or to mean other things).

Perhaps you should ask what specific other techniques you have in mind are called?

  • Mentioning something ridiculous that you did and doesn't seem to have been really done and that seems to be part of a sketch, but that you actually did.
    – Sayaman
    May 16, 2021 at 2:33
  • @Sayaman I'm not aware of there being a word for that. I think I know the common device you mean, though. There may be a trope name for it.
    – Dronz
    May 16, 2021 at 2:58
  • What's the trope name?
    – Sayaman
    May 16, 2021 at 3:09
  • A trope is the cliched use of a recurring theme or motif, so it's inherently derogatory. Hopefully you're not planning to write anything that uses tropes. May 16, 2021 at 3:22
  • 1
    @FeliniusRex it would be very very very difficult to write anything that doesn't use tropes. "Tropes are not the same thing as cliches. They may be brand new but seem trite and hackneyed; they may be thousands of years old but seem fresh and new. They are not bad, they are not good; tropes are tools that the creator of a work of art uses to express their ideas to the audience. It's pretty much impossible to create a story without tropes." tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tropes
    – randomhead
    May 16, 2021 at 5:12

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