Character Trait Entry: Witty

Definition:  a strong intellectual capacity marked by clever humor.


Causes:

Having a strong sense of humor or dry observation that is combined with quick thought; growing up in a home where intellectual or thoughtful humor was both appreciated an encouraged; having the ability to see the flaws and ironies in people and society and translating them into comedic observations

Characters in Literature: 

 Professor McGonagall (Harry Potter); Dr. Watson & Sherlock Holmes (same); Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)

Positives:

Witty people can make quick observations that can turn mundane situations or events into a laugh factory of hilarity. Quick-thinking, witty folks deliver quips which are both clever and eye-opening, allowing others to experience a situation's meaning at a different level, often through the lens of irony. Most people enjoy a quick wit, especially since these types are usually the first to make a joke, or they can add to an existing joke by adding another layer of witty observation, carrying the humor further.  Wit can be overt or dry, but it always has an ironic quality to it.
 
Negatives:

People with a quick wit can sometimes let their mouths get ahead of their good sense, offering humor when it isn't wanted or needed, or directing a joke toward a person, causing hurt feelings. Some people who get too enthralled with their own wittiness often veer into caustic wit and sarcasm, which can hurt or humiliate when directed personally. There is also the chance that a observation quip about a group or belief could touch on a sensitive subject unknowingly, causing offense to one of the listeners. A final, lesser negative would be how other people may feel their jokes are one-upped all the time by someone who is verbally clever.

Common Portrayals:

Comedians, sitcom actors, talk show hosts, political satirists, college professors, Court Jesters

Cliches 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.
 Conflicting Characteristics to make your Wit unique or more interesting:
Shy, Eccentric, Insecure, Proper, Serious, Lazy

23 comments:

Martha Ramirez said...

Another awesom character trait. Thank you!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tips. I am definitely not witty so would have a hard time portraying this in a character.

Eve.E said...

Hi there,
Thankyou so much for stopping by my blog. I have popped over from alex's blogfest. Lovely to meet you and you have a new follower. xoxo
Eve. :)

Stacy Green said...

Great entry, Angela. This is one that's tough for me, especially if I think about it too much. It's so easy to come across as just obnoxious instead of witty.

Kelly Polark said...

I love witty characters (and people)!

Carol Riggs said...

Thanks for the witty run-down! And you definitely got my attention by posting that photo! CUTE, very cute...

Lisa Gail Green said...

Oh no! I think you might have just called my DH cliche. He he he. I'm JUST KIDDING!!! :D

Medeia Sharif said...

I love witty characters and I agree with your cliche.

I love that pic. Two of my favorite Hollywood men.

Have a great weekend.

Tony Storm said...

this is the kind of character that amuses me the most, i dont really know why tho

Traci Kenworth said...

Great post. A dashing character
to behold and interesting to add
to the mix.

Carrie Butler said...

Fantastic post, Angela! Have a great weekend! :)

Becca Puglisi said...

Great twists, Ange. It's kind of hard to think of how to put a new spin on 'witty', but there's always a way, if we think hard enough.

Arlee Bird said...

Miranda Hardy recommended you so I am now following. A witty character provides much needed entertainment value to a story.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Aldrea Alien said...

Hey, you just described my grandad!
He was excellent at the witty remarks (on both sides of the coin).

@Medeia Sharif: I agree on the picture. Yet to see that movie though.

Laura Pauling said...

I absolutely love witty characters in any shape or form! Great post. Thanks!

Becca Puglisi said...

Welcome, Arlee! And thanks so much, Miranda :).

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

Witty would be harder to pull off than simply amusing or funny. I can't even think of an example from a book. Great entry! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Clarissa Draper said...

Awesome! I love witty characters!

Ciara said...

I love witty characters! I just wish I could write them. LOL

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I love good wit, and this reminds me why a lot of agents and publishers say they look for humorous stories. Your post was a nice development of the pros and cons of being witty. Your blog is really a nice treasure chest of character traits to consider.

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments and shout outs! I've been out of town for the weekend and this was so great to come home too. I love witty characters, but find it hard to pull off without verging into overly sarcastic wit. Hope this helps!

Angela

Southpaw said...

I think witty in a book is hard to pull off because a lot of times it is subtle.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Witty characters and people are such fun! But wit is sort of a gift isn't it? Hard to force, either in fiction or in real life. Yet another great post.

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