Thursday, August 30, 2012

Insults and Banter

Perhaps I possess a cruel and unusual nature that delights in giving insults. Or maybe I just appreciate a sharp, knife-edged thrust of wit now and then as many people do. I don't like giving the insults, but I have loads of fun reading and writing them.
Shakespeare had quite a few good ones:

"I would challenge you to a battle of wits but I saw you were unarmed."

"More of your conversation would infect my brain."

Hey! I even found a nifty, online Shakespearean insult kit! (do keep in mind not to use some of these in modern'd have your tongue washed out. :P) These could be really helpful in a medieval-era novel.

Another man who was almost on par with Shakespeare in this category was Winston should hear some of his tiffs with Lady Astor! Phew! Among the lengthy list I found were some of these gems:

"A modest man who had much to be modest about..."

"He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened."

"...a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma..."

I will be the first to admit that even if these men where a bit cruel at times, they were undoubtedly witty. I also love witty banter...a friendly sparring now and then that pokes at the opponent with no real malice, but certainly elicits a laugh or two. The one thing I love to come across in a book is a bit of wit or some first-rate insults. Not the common run of insults, mind you, because what fun are those? But I try to write in a sparring-match or two in much of my writing, and am having especial fun with it in Fly Away Home because Calida Harper and Wade Barnett are both clever, sharp-witted, and capable. And sometimes they cross swords with other characters as well. Here are some of my favorite moments:

(between Callie and her former co-worker, Jules)

“I want you to rescue my career.” {he said}
“Your career.”
“Oh…I hadn’t noticed it had grown big enough to get into trouble. My, how time flies.”

*     *    * 

I raised my glass of tonic-water and smiled at Mr. Barnett. “To independence, to Ladybird Snippets, and to the fashion sense of a journalist,” I teased.
Mr. Barnett raised his glass in reply. “And to Miss Harper, who views the world from all angles and never tells a man where she’ll lash out next.”

*     *     *

“I agree to go dancing under one condition….”
“What are the conditions, Mr. Barnett?”
“You simply cannot wear black.”
“Provoking toad.”
“Nefarious chit.”

*     *     *

So he was going to make me speak? So be it. “You were taunting and clever and made me look a fool.”
“It was not my intention to make you look a fool, Miss Harper.”
“Well you certainly did a heck of a job not intending.”
“You can never make a person out to be something they aren’t,” he answered with that cool causality that was so maddening. 

*     *     *

The bella signora sipped her champagne and sighed. “I would think having Mr. Barnett for a partner a fortunate situation.”
“Oh, now, Miss Nalia,” Mr. Barnett protested, but his new humility irked me.
“As a partner in business, I confess I find him exacting,” I laid my napkin in my lap and smiled with uncanny sweetness. “But I’ve had it from his own lips that as a dance-partner he is unrivalled. I look forward to seeing if he represents himself aright, for he seemed so determined on that point...It would be a great pleasure to prove him wrong.”


Always Narnian said...

I absolutely love wit and dry humor. :) The humor now-a-days sometimes makes me sick! :P
I love to find good insults! :) It's great!

Jack said...

AHA! These are funny. I like the battle of wits one. That is the one I've heard longest. I'd use it on someone...but I'm the one lacking wits so it wouldn't work.

Dakota Densmore said...

I love the picture!! I actually think I watched that movie....His Girl Friday, I believe. ;)

Yes!! The Shakespearean insult kit!! hahaha! I found that too, and I love it. XD

Abby said...

I love writing a little witty banter between my characters! Definitely one of my favourite things, writing-wise.

Oh, and nefarious chit is simply marvellous :')