Essay on “Brevity is the Soul of Wit”

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Essay on “Brevity is the Soul of Wit”


The meaning of the term, ‘Brevity is the soul of wit” is that a intelligent person is capable of expressing himself within the minimum possible words.

A less intelligent and mediocre persons will go on writing pages on a certain subject. But, an intelligent person will possesses the art to say something within the fewest possible words is an art. Such a quality is not taught, but comes from heart.

An intelligent person doesn’t waste a single word and arranges a number of diverse ideas in the most systematic, rational and convincing manner. He is able to make it interesting. The reader forgets their real surroundings and lands into the world of the writer.

Wit and humor are the expression of the ridiculous element of life. Wit is a sudden flash, an electric spark, a stroke of lighting. The successful humorous story can appeal to all of us at all ages. No conversation is complete without them. They satisfy our mental appetite, and enable us to digest the more serious parts of the discourse.

A good style in writing is one that arouses curiosity at the beginning, maintains it throughout and satisfies it in the end. A literary work which provides the reader with a good mental excitement and subsequent relief is one of the real pleasures of life. This is true whether you are writing a poem, a story, a drama, a biography or a magazine article.

The elements of a good style are honesty, simplicity, brevity, clearness, coherence, vividness and fire. The third essential of a good style is brevity. The day of the novelist with the long words and the long sentences is gone. The tempo of life is too fast. As a matter of fact the mind has always travelled faster than the body. The greatest writers with their brief phrases put wings of imagination on the mind of the readers. The most universally remembered passages in Homer, in Shakespeare, in the Bible, in Dickens, in Emerson, in Stevenson, are the passages that move the mind most rapidly. And, the quality that gives them their rapid motion is brevity – brevity in work, in phrase and in sentence.

In the case of dramas and plays also, those will be better with fewer characters and less scenery and shorter speeches. Brevity in the drama is the soul of wit.

In dialogues also brilliant conversation should be avoided and those should be ‘smart’ and brief. In the case of a journalist also the style will be photographic and graphic. The newspaper story must be almost telegraphic in its brevity and yet it must tell a complete and interesting story. Public is no longer interested in drab reports of the news. Brevity is the motto in the newspaper editorial column. Wit and humor are important not only in the news item, but in the feature story as well.

Thus one should avoid exaggeration and flowery expressions and should practice brevity in speech and writing so that wit and humor thereof are fully appreciated by all.

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