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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How important is wit in the writing to your evaluation of an author?

By wit I don't mean broadly funny situations or screaming farce, but language that surprises you and brings a smile to your lips or a chuckle to your throat.

PS I've also made a thread for us to list our favorite witty writers.
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,71274.0.html
 

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I think it depends on the type and tone of the book, but in general, I love the sort of wit where the author uses an unexpected metaphor or simile that makes you do a double-take, and then realize, "Yeah, that's a great way to put it." I think that's one of the main reasons I love both Terry Pratchett and Roger Zelazny. Even though the latter's works are generally much less humorous, they still have a wonderful cleverness in their imagery.
 

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An author who can subtly weave wit into their writing has me hooked !!
 

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I think wit is important in everything.  I like adding wit to my own review writing.  I am not always successful, but I like it.  I think it shows intelligence.  Roger Ebert does a great job with it.
 

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balaspa said:
I think wit is important in everything. I like adding wit to my own review writing. I am not always successful, but I like it. I think it shows intelligence. Roger Ebert does a great job with it.
You beat me to it. I was just going to type that wit is best received by, and produced by, the intelligent. I like dry, subtle humour.

*that does sound snobbish, I know *hangs head in shame*
 

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It's one of my favorite parts about reading a book, especially mysteries because you don't have to be serious the entire time.  It's okay to allow readers to catch their breath for a moment and lighten the mood - and that's what I love about Robert B. Parker - he says things sometimes crack me up and I love that :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ilyria_moon said:
You beat me to it. I was just going to type that wit is best received by, and produced by, the intelligent. I like dry, subtle humour.

*that does sound snobbish, I know *hangs head in shame*
Neither snobbery nor elitism bothers me. I just naturally assume that you're including me.

But I'm not sure it is always true that "wit is best received by, and produced by, the intelligent". It is widely agreed that engineers as a class are very intelligent, yet is is also obvious to anyone who mixes much with engineers that wit is in short supply, even a sense of humor is absent to greater extent than in the rest of the population, and what someone else in the thread has called "cheap sarcasm" substitutes for both.

I would, of course, readily agree that "the best wit is received by, and produced by, the intelligent" is generally true.

Wit, and the care that goes into producing it, is the ultimate compliment we pay our fellows.
 

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Andre Jute said:
How important is wit in the writing to your evaluation of an author?

By wit I don't mean broadly funny situations or screaming farce, but language that surprises you and brings a smile to your lips or a chuckle to your throat.
I never thought about this before, but now that you mention it, pretty darn tooting important.
 

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Andre Jute said:
Neither snobbery nor elitism bothers me. I just naturally assume that you're including me.

But I'm not sure it is always true that "wit is best received by, and produced by, the intelligent". It is widely agreed that engineers as a class are very intelligent, yet is is also obvious to anyone who mixes much with engineers that wit is in short supply, even a sense of humor is absent to greater extent than in the rest of the population, and what someone else in the thread has called "cheap sarcasm" substitutes for both.

I would, of course, readily agree that "the best wit is received by, and produced by, the intelligent" is generally true.

Wit, and the care that goes into producing it, is the ultimate compliment we pay our fellows.
I laughed out loud :D

Yes, you're probably right about the engineers, I probably could have worded it better. I know what I mean, though, e.g. I find my favourite witticisms often rely on wide general knowledge to be humourous. Or maybe that's just because my dandy friends and I are obtuse creatures :D
 

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My father is an engineer and also the funniest person I know, so, well, yes :)

True wit comes from intelligence and understanding, two qualities I look for in a writer.  So yes, wit is very important to me.
 

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My brother is an engineer, too, but loves theatre sports for the chance it gives to be spontaneously witty - and he is. My dad was an engineer and he is very witty as well. You've obviously been hanging out with the wrong engineers, Andre. :D

I don't need for there to be wit in the books I read, but I tend to be disappointed when someone tells me, 'this is really funny' and it isn't (which is often the case). It has to be fairly dry wit for me to appreciate it. A writer trying to be clever and failing, is the surest way of making me put a book down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Skate said:
My brother is an engineer, too, but loves theatre sports for the chance it gives to be spontaneously witty - and he is. My dad was an engineer and he is very witty as well. You've obviously been hanging out with the wrong engineers, Andre. :D
Ben White said:
My father is an engineer and also the funniest person I know, so, well, yes :)
I know elegant, witty engineers too; quite a few of those are my friends. But I find it surprising, when you consider how clever engineers are (and must be -- check the entry requirements for the engineering faculty at any good university), that a much larger percentage of them have neither wit nor humor.

Right you are, Skate: of course I hang out with the wrong engineers, from a wit viewpoint at least; but they know things about my hobbies that I don't, which makes them the right engineers. It's a paradox.

Ben White said:
True wit comes from intelligence and understanding, two qualities I look for in a writer. So yes, wit is very important to me.
It is true that wit isn't something you reach for, but that comes from intelligence and understanding, as you say -- a third necessary element is the time and the willingness to polish for the best manner of saying something, which generally will lead to it being witty.

Was it Keats or Byron who apologized for sending a long letter because he didn't have time to write a short one?
 
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