1. terrylor
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    terrylor New Member

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    Tips, Advice Appreciated! (Where and how do i learn to construct witty sentences)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by terrylor, Jan 16, 2013.

    Hi guys,

    As i said in the title, i want to learn to construct witty, cocky funny sentences... AND also write and construct sophisticated literature, my writing situation at the moment is very beginner in my opinion.

    I see funny/sophisticated sentences and laugh, always wanting to construct similar sentences but never knowing how to... or where to begin?.. below is an example of what i'm talking about..

    "It's true, us Asians have a biological predisposition to technology and gaming that allows us supernatural abilities in MMOs. We were hoping to keep this a secret from the masses, but we've been found out."

    Its funny cocky..

    What i'm after is constructing sophisticated sentences, and funny cocky sentences... maybe what i'm after is just writing and vocabulary in general... and the way its constructed is from my attitude/personality...

    Do any masters of writing here have any tips on where i begin to learn, what i should read or what attitude to embrace when writing?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    I don't think you needed to provide an example. Most of the people here already know what a humorous sentence is. Although I would never call it 'witty, cocky funny'. Not helping is the fact that the joke isn't really that funny(Rest easy, I understood it. I've played a great number of MMOs to date).

    How to construct jokes? Um... With practice? And lots of it. They say true craftsmanship is stolen, rather than learned. So, listen to a lot of jokes, stand-up comedy, read funny books. Learn from the funny people. Then try to come up with your own. What I'm trying to say is, are you funny in real life? If so, you can be funny in writing as well.

    As for 'constructing sophisticated literature', I don't know if I should say anything, because I'm by no means one of the 'masters of writing'. But this advice can't hurt: read. A lot. Find the authors you consider good and masterful and read the hell out of everything they've produced. In time, some of the things that make them great will rub off on you.

    From what I've seen so far, you can't really choose an attitude. The way you write is the way you are. Hope this helps.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Khaelmin nailed it. Your own personal style comes through in your writing. Witty sentences derive their wit from the expression of the idea - not from some formulaic sentence construction. The emphasis on certain words, or the order in which they are said, and the particular words chosen all help to convey a certain attitude along with their meaning. The best ways to improve your skills in this arena are through reading pieces that are in the vein of what you'd like to write and writing yourself.
     
  4. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Agreed! I think you develop an attitude/voice etc. You develop it by absorption - reading lots of different styles is one way of developing attitude and a voice. My top witty writers (off the top of my head, and at the moment) Joe R Lansdale, P.G. Wodehouse (if you have the chance to watch the new BBC series Blandings, do so), Alan Bennett, Stephen Fry. The first one is american, the others British.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    deleted dupe
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but if you're not naturally witty or sophisticated, i doubt you'll be able to write that way... i don't know anyone who 'learned' to be a comic... or had to be 'taught' to be sophisticated... noel coward was the epitome of both and he seems to have popped out of the womb delivering witty oneliners to the delivery room team with his first breaths, instead of wailing his lungs out...

    to prove me wrong, you can start reading all of his works, along with oscar wilde's, dorothy parker's, tom wolfe's, and other masters of the bon mot and see if you can get any wittier and more sophisticated by osmosis...
     
  7. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Posting in forums, a lot. And not ones like these that have a good level headed community, the ones that are lawless and aren't bound by a strict moderating team filled with lots of teenagers. Those forums are cluttered with users that TRY to be witty and funny, but mostly aren't. However it does help you discern between a witty phrase gone wrong and one that's all right (99% of them are crap), and by recognizing them it'll help you develop your own witty and cocky ability.

    It's asking you to tolerate a ton of nonsense, and I don't think it's worth it to be honest, but that's one route.
     
  8. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I was about to say, "if you're not naturally witty or sophisticated, i doubt you'll be able to write that way", but it looks like mamma beat me to it (as always!)

    Not everyone can write clever, witty lines. Not everyone can write smart, sophisticated novels. Not everyone can write cocky, humorous dialog. Certain things cannot be learned. I cannot imagine a stand up comic without a sense of humor. And not everyone has the same perception of what is funny. One of my favorite comics was David Allen, a dry British wit. But when I watch Gabriel Iglesias, I nearly wet myself laughing so hard. They are two completely different styles of humor but both funny as hell.

    Writing is much the same way. Some people can really excel at Scifi, their minds constantly run in that direction, while others could never grasp the basic concept, they'd rather write a murder mystery or a romance or whatever. And they are good at it. some love to read one genre but they write in another because that's the way their minds work. What they read is their escapism. What they write is just what is in their heads. It's sort of like how some people are better at math and others are better at languages. The same holds true for that witty reparte you want to create. It is entirely possible that you are simply not suited to that particular style of writing.

    And some things, like a sense of humor, cannot be learned.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ask the Fonz how to be cool.

    Either you get it, or you don't. There are some qualities for which the harder you try, the wider you miss the mark.
     
  10. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    I agree that there are some things that you either have or you don't - however, one skill you might have is the ability to absorb another writer's voice into your own a bit ... like Brit and Khaelmin both said. I find that I do that ... so if I read a lot of serious books, my own writing becomes serious. If I read a lot of satirical comedy, I find that I am better able to write it. It's kind of like actors "getting into character". But I've always been told I was a bit of a chameleon and that, too, isn't something easily learned. Who knows? Might work for you.
     
  11. terrylor
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    terrylor New Member

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    After careful reading, here are my agreements and disagreements, i still thank you all for your quick responses ! :)

    As Tony Robbins(one of my many great idols) says, "find a master... and model someone who is already successful... you don't have to re-invent the wheel..."

    That is also true, though having said that... attitudes/personality are developed over time through growth, if you find a reason that's compelling... if you find conviction... you will... find a new way of life and develop a new attitude towards it...

    Your not born a leader, nor funny, nor sophisticated.. your just born as a standard baby, unless your autistic or have a big penis... there is nothing special about a baby besides the birth of your own child...

    People grow up and develop their conviction over time, and everything you've done while you were a child... had to do with the actions you now take as an adult... Whether your funny or not, your a leader or not... you learned it all from somewhere or something... your lifestyle molded you into the person you are today... you are not born that way, you simply developed the personality traits as you grow... If you develop it... you can change it...

    The book... "The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation"... the woman was born with disabilities... and changed it through hard work and conviction...

    i wasn't always a leader till recent 2011... in 2009 i was sick and tired of being the guy in the background and walking around unnoticed... I decided i was going to get what i wanted in life and having the skill set to lead people was my first target... After many books... videos... and many uncomfortable situations... I finally figured out how to lead certain social groups by being in a certain state for particular groups... A state that was developed over 2 years of practice(this state was something i developed myself)...

    I wasn't born a leader... I created a leader...


    I agree with you here... why write, say, or do something that doesn't give you pleasure, excitement or tickle your funny bone... Only create something for yourself that you see of value... never create something for others, seeking to suck value... What i seek here is learning to express myself through literature, whether it'd be through humor or philosophy, sci-fi or fantasy...



    A part of the pickup arts, you have to learn to connect with people, learn to build rapport, become interesting, become a story teller... these are things you pick up if you haven't already developed them... Meet Mystery from The Venusian Arts... he was a loser up until later in his life when he finally mastered social dynamics and became today as we know him... the standard for a master of The Venusian Arts ... Simply put it... he didn't get it.. then he got it...


    - Having said everything, i mean not to imitate the master... but to use his lifestyle, his routine, his conviction, his rituals as a guide into developing my own standard for humor and sophistication... -

    Expression of thoughts through literature is truly what i'm after.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that you probably can't learn to be witty or funny if you don't have it in you. But what if you do have it in you and it's been trained out? It could be worthwhile to try to free it again.

    Even in that case, I don't think that you can consciously, directly, try to be funny. Instead, I think that you can try to loosen up your brain, try to unhook it from the literal and logical. Once it's freed up, with thoughts swimming randomly around like tropical fish in a tank, then you _might_ find that those thoughts assemble themselves into something funny or witty. Even if you don't, it might help you to find new ways of thinking and writing anyway.

    If you've been trained to write in a clear, practical, school-essay manner, instead try focusing more on your feelings and impressions. Try writing nonsense, and cynical impressions, and happy impressions, and hyperbole. Try writing as the most humble of people, and the most self-important of people. Try all kinds of extremes of thought and attitude. This might be really lousy writing; don't worry about that. The idea is to break out of a tidy filing-cabinet structure of thought.

    And consume funny witty nonsense. Read _Hitchhiker's Guide_. Read Calvin Trillin. Watch Monty Python. Watch Bruce Campbell movies. And consume whatever you _don't_ usually consume. Try opera. Try ballet. Try overwrought chick films. Whatever's new to you, so that you see it with fresh eyes. Observe new things, think about them, write nonsense about them.

    Does this program work? I have no semblance of a clue. But that's my suggestion.

    When I consider why I think that it might work, I realize that it's because funny is usually about strong emotions and attitudes, twisted in a funhouse mirror. _Fawlty Towers_ is about Basil Fawlty's sadness and terror and longing, and his wife's contempt and disappointment. Doesn't sound funny, does it? But it really is.

    If you stay sensible and tidy, you'll never get in front of that funhouse mirror.
     
  13. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Mystery is still socially awkward in some aspects. He created a system to compensate for that, but it's geared towards picking up women; as far as relationships goes non pick up and he's still somewhat of an odd ball. I'll admit I haven't met him, but I've read a lot about him from other people and in the novel The Game, and you can tell he's still sort of a geek with the science to trigger a woman's greatest desires. I do applaud him for living the life of a superstar, but the point I'm trying to make is that he can't ever fully compensate for the awkwardness he suffered his first 20 years of his life.

    You can change things about yourself, but it's going to be hard. An 8 year old learning the piano is going to have 10x the developmental curve than a 40 year old. The brain stops growing at a certain age. Once you're past that you're mostly the same person at 25 to the end of your life, give or take. I mean of course people will change, but not by drastic amounts. It's possible, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. The brain is a fascinating thing; throughout our lives patterns and roads are built in our brain that helps us recognize and process the things around us better. As we age more and more and more roads stem or are forked. Say you meet a person, you create a new road in your brain about that person, and if you have a bad first impression it takes a TON to reverse that about yourself since the original road was a bad first impression and all memories associated with that person will always link to that bad first impression.

    I'm digressing here but it's leading somewhere, and it's related to the topic. This is what people mean when they say you either have it or you don't, in terms of being witty. It's not meant to be taken literally, because you can improve it, but it gets harder as you age to develop it.
     
  14. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    I definitely should have revised that post, it's sloppy taking a second look at it.

    What I tried conveying about the whole "brain" thing is that it's like a building. You start from the bottom to the top. As time passes the building grows and grows. So as our brains and what our brains associate things with. Realistically everyone has witticism, it just sucks a lot or you only have the ability to recognize it. To employ witticism right from the get go RIGHT at its foundation, that's where the truly special people come from. If you don't have the ability to use it right from the get go you can still improve on it early in the lower levels, but as you build each new level of this building it gets harder and harder to develop.

    A solution is to start over and blow this building. Too bad you can't do that because that would literally mean taking a chunk of your brain out. And it's impossible to forget something too. Memories can be hidden away deep in the brain, but never truly forgotten. Plus although I used the analogy of a building the brain is so much more complex then that. Witticism is just not a standalone building in your brain, it's also connected with your entire brain.

    Boy the people at the lectures were so much better at explaining this. Hopefully I was more understandable the second time.
     
  15. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    If you don't already you should read, watch and listen to witty people as much as possible - luckily this is a very pleasant pastime! If any of your favourite witty people have podcasts listen to them, if you like David Sedaris for example get his books or audiobooks. Also, write a lot!

    I completely agree that if you aren't a witty person you can't become one, but if you know that you have humorous ideas and observations but you can't communicate them properly at the moment, I think you have a chance of improving by doing the above.

    As a slight aside, I'm a bit of a comedy geek and in listening to interviews with successful comedians I've been really surprised to hear how many of them took comedy/stand up courses. Obviously that's a different skill to writing, but they were all 'funny in the pub' types who learned to be professionally funny.

    Basically, as with most things you need to work hard. Best of luck!
     
  16. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I agree to a point Maia, but it depends on how old you are. You can develop, your wit, your knowledge, and your personality through people you meet, the things you see and the things you read. I remember thinking I was a fully developed human being at the age of 16, but I have changed lot since then (and I hope I am a little bit wittier, etc). No one is claiming you can read yourself into being the next Oscar Wilde, but it doesn't hurt for people to try to improve themselves.
     
  17. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    That's exactly what I meant in my original post. You may never become the funniest and wisest person alive, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try, because 'you either have it or you don't.'

    I used to think I had no talent at writing whatsoever until a few years back, but it turns out that all I was lacking was patience and practice. Through a lot of work and study of my favorite authors' works I like to think I've gained at least a little ability. And I'm sure I'll gain more, in time. That's true for almost everything in life, be it sense of humor, sports, workplace skills or... why not, sophistication.
     
  18. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to join your funny bone to your giggling stick!

    ^ Sorry about that!

    I don't know if comedy can be taught - is it not an inbuilt way of thinking? A way of seeing the world not as it is, but exaggerated and distorted beyond belief. On saying that, there is probably a book on comedy writing.

    Good luck.
     
  19. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    Yep, it definitely is an inbuilt way of thinking. But is not your thinking shaped by your education and environment? You are by no means born thinking in a particular way. Surround yourself with things and people of a particular kind and they will influence you.
     
  20. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    There actually is, it's called Comedy Writing Secrets. Very helpful and goes through the psychological reasons of what makes people laugh.

    I'm not sure if I read it in that book or somewhere else, but I remember this one portrayal of comedy; imagine a room of employees and their CEO was present. The CEO giggles, and the entire room giggles with him, asking him "what's so funny?" while giggling, not even sure why they were giggling. Another employee, this one who has no respect amongst his colleagues, giggles. No one gives him any attention, and those that do give him an odd face.

    In a way comedy is power. Stand up comedians, what they're essentially doing is stripping the power of whatever it is they're poking fun at; government, celebrities, etc. America's Funniest Home Videos? We're laughing at the misfortunes of others, who in a sense are losing power by being humiliated. List goes on.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you could have just edited it, instead of starting a new one... you'll find an 'edit' button at the bottom of your posts...
     
  22. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    I can vouch for this.

    I am a member of hackforums.net, the largest and most immature forum that is semi-tolerable.

    I found that my tendency to write sarcasm increased exponentially,
    and cynical remarks became the norm.

    Just TRY visiting the Religion and Philosophy section. I DARE you.
    It still gives me nightmares just thinking about it.
     
  23. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    What about satire?
    I do hope you won't suggest we are stripping our own power.
     
  24. Futurist
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    I agree with Cogito. It's not something you can force; either you've got it or you haven't. I am content to admit I don't have a sense of humor and go from there.
    Humor comes from within, not by learning or imitating. It's a natural process or gift.
     
  25. terrylor
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    terrylor New Member

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    Humor is vague... it could range from laughing at a joke about poop and pee, to laughing at a joke about the earth being round... BUT... if you laugh, i guarantee you... you have a sense of humor... IF on the other hand you have not smirked, laughed or smiled at anything in your entire life... then you probably... should get yourself checked out for anti-depressants...

    To believe that your mind is limited to what you were born with, is not something you should accept, again... If what you have said is truly your conviction then.. please.. by all means believe it...

    Your perception is your reality...
     

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