Everyone loves a great quote that can summarize pages of paragraphs in just a line or two, which is perfect for today’s bite-size posts shared on social media sites, says award-winning author and college instructor Daniel L. Wick.
There is no shortage of websites devoted to some of the best quotes in history; unfortunately, they’re usually coupled with a modicum of spam-y advertising links that easily distract from a profound message, he says.
“Many quotes are aphorisms, or epigrams, or have the qualities of an epigram,” Wick says. “Epigrams and aphorisms are both original thoughts that are usually concise and memorable; they’re brief, usually witty, occasionally profound observations on life, love, death, philosophy, religion and virtually everything else.”
It’s great that more folks are exposed to nuggets of wisdom from Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and George Carlin, but that doesn’t mean that you, too, can’t provide your own original perspective, says Wick, author of the new book, “An Epidemic of Epigrams or an Avalanche of Aphorisms.” He offers tips for crafting your own memorable quotes.
- Don’t be afraid to stand out. Have you ever liked or reposted a great quote shared by a friend? You may be circulating a meme, an idea that spreads from one individual to the next. In other words, it’s like a cliché on steroids; it goes “viral.” If you have your own thought, why not share it with your friends? Many people believe that since they’re not Shakespeare that they have no business spreading their original pithy observations, but you may be surprised by the response!
- Repurpose conventional quotes. In self-defense, it’s called using your opponent’s weight against him. Rather than collide with a bigger opponent’s force, use it against him. If you’re tired of conventional wisdom, put your own twist on that nugget of truth. “It works; people instantly recognize the quote but have to pause to process its new meaning,” Wick says. “A few examples I use include: ‘Beauty is only sin deep,’ and ‘You shouldn’t judge a cover by its book.’ ”
- Ask yourself, “Does it feel right?” How do you know that you’ve come up with something that will provoke thought and delight? After crafting a line or two you may feel that, in one sense, you’ve come up with something pretty interesting – but in what way? It’s one thing to succinctly pose a clever question that is deceptively profound; it’s another thing to confuse people with a poorly stated idea. As any good writer would do, put yourself in the reader’s seat. After verifying the meaning and grammatical flow, read with a fresh point of view and ascertain whether or not it resonates with that something extra.
“Of course, great ideas and great quotes don’t often reveal themselves on command; they often spring forth on their own terms,” Wick says. “My advice: be open when a good idea presents itself.”