"It must be brief. It must be definitive. It must be personal — that's the difference between an aphorism and a proverb. It must be philosophical — that's the difference between an aphorism and a platitude, which is not philosophical," he says. "And the fifth law is it must have a twist. And that can be either a linguistic twist or a psychological twist or even a twist in logic that somehow flips the reader into a totally unexpected place."Geary cites a number of eloquent women among his collected aphorists. They include Mae West, who, he notes, wrote most of her own material ("It's not the men in my life it's the life in my men") and Eleanor Roosevelt ("A woman is like a teabag — only in hot water do you realize how strong she is").
Where can you use aphorisms? They're apt in speeches, if not overused, and in shorter, more personal communications, such as letters, essays or blog posts. See whether you can craft a few using the five rules that Geary notes above.