Aphorism: True, Short, and Witty

by | Writing

image by geralt


A truth that is said in a quick and witty manner is an aphorism. Aphorisms don’t have to be humorous, but that’s half the reason we like so many of them. And aphorism’s brevity makes their truths easy to remember.

An example of this literary device is Benjamin Franklin’s familiar statement, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

A character in a story might have the quirky habit of quoting famous aphorisms. However, several characters using famous aphorisms may sound clichéd. The solution would be to create some fresh aphorisms and spice up dialogue in our stories.


To get the feel of what aphorisms sound like, here are six.

image by rickey123

From Proverbs 21:19: “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.”

By William Faulkner: “A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.”

Russell Banks: “There is a wonderful intelligence to the unconscious. It’s always smarter than we are.”

Thomas Jefferson: “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

image by janeb13

Albert Einstein: The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

Attribution uncertain: “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”



Aphorisms Learned From My Life’s Lessons

The first one is based on what I believe in writing romances about extreme opposites. The others rise from truths I’ve learned from life so far.

“Before opposites attract, opposites distract.”

“Prickly people will stick it to you.”

“Listen, instead of mentally forming your clever response, then you’ll have a clever response.”

“It’s best to ignore a boss who refuses to punctuate his email directives.”

image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

“Give colleagues what they need, and you’ll have a mob at your door.”

“It’s ludicrous to cover up the awful taste of avocados by smearing butter on them.”

“It’s better to grow up average than beautiful; in an old folks home, developed personality trumps looks.”

Create an aphorism from a character’s grasp of a truth & enliven your dialogue. Click to tweet.

Your turn. Will you create an aphorism from your life’s lessons and share it with us?

Newsletter Signup

Please subscribe to my newsletter, Zoe’s Zigzags, and receive a free short story.”

Author Zoe M. McCarthy Newsletter Signup

Follow Blog Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,836 other subscribers
-785Days -23Hours -40Mins -24Secs

American Christian Fiction Writers

American Christian Fiction Writers

You may also like


Pin It on Pinterest