Definition: a strong intellectual capacity marked by clever humor.
Characters in Literature: Professor McGonagall (Harry Potter); Dr. Watson & Sherlock Holmes (same); Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)
Common Portrayals: Comedians, sitcom actors, talk show hosts, political satirists, college professors, Court Jesters
Clichés to Avoid: Overly intellectual wit that becomes a private joke because it requires doctorate level of understanding to ‘get it’
Twists on the Traditional Wit:
- I love a clever joke that I don’t see coming. This is often difficult to bring about in writing without the pace or the dialogue dragging. Try bringing a longer range ‘joke’ into the storyline so it comes about organically, centering on a witty character!
- Targeted irony is difficult to master without causing offense, because it often entails the person it’s directed toward to laugh at themselves because of a belief or action they don’t really give much thought to. Comedians pull this off all the time, but the audience is expecting to be targeted. Show the witty use of irony within a story, and have it work, but in a setting where those targeted don’t see it coming.
- Wittiness is something that most people enjoy and appreciate. Put your character in a situation where another character must be ‘won over’ to this type of humor.
Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.
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