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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

WORD SELECTION - HAVE SOME FUN

Posted Friday, September 9, 2011, at 4:12 PM

As long as you're going to be working so hard on your writing, you might as well have some fun with it.

One of the more creative ways to use words is to make nouns into verbs, which I see being done more and more lately. We do it in our everyday conversations. Google, the powerful search engine, has morphed into a verb, as in "I Googled my own name to see what came up." We say "Be sure to friend me on Facebook," and "Journaling is a good way to vent." And at a store the other day I saw a sign that stated "Gift It!"

Though some people take exception with "verbing nouns," as I've heard it called, there's no denying it's an effective way to spice up your writing, especially in dialogue or first-person narrative, as it gives a definite voice to your characters.

Then there are the made up words. That store sign I saw reminded me of a word I've heard a few times lately: "re-gifting," which is a made up noun-to-verb word, quite a combination. And as a fan of Jim Butcher's writing, I'm often delighted by his turns of phrase. Here's a sentence I spotted recently in his book Storm Front: "I leapt out of the shower, my head all asudsy." Asudsy - the absurdity of it made me laugh, which I'm sure was the author's intention.

Of course if you're writing fantasy, the possibilities are endless, but even in non-fantasy writing a made up word can be a great way to surprise and delight your readers. And who knows - a few years from now some of your made up words could very well become part of our everyday language.

Take some liberties, get creative (it's all part of being a writer, after all), and you might find yourself in the esteemed company of Shakespeare, who is credited for making up the words zany, gossip, barefaced, lackluster and metamorphize to name just a few. And metamorphize has even morphed into a yet another commonly used word.

OK, but what about irregardless? I was always taught that it isn't a word, and scolded not to use it. It is in the dictionary, but listed as "nonstandard." So why, considering it's used so often, hasn't it caught on as an accepted word? If gaydar, cyberslacking, and mini-me can be added to the dictionary, why not irregardless? I don't know. I just know I still don't like it.

Last week we talked about verbs, and their importance in creating strong writing that editors will love. Since then I ran into this amazing bit of writing: "The digital speedometer blurred up to 92, where it hung. Trees reeled giddily past on both sides of the road." Mile 81 by Stephen King.

Isn't that a terrific couple of sentences?


Imply/Infer

The speaker implies; the listener infers. I might imply that my uncle is a terrible driver. You could reasonably infer that he should lose his driver's license. To imply is to hint, to infer is to figure it out.


A Bit of Promotion:

Roger Stoner's new book, Horse Woman's Child: A Novel About Clashing Cultures on the American Frontier, is now available on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com, and will soon be available for Kindle and Nook as well. Roger is from Peterson, Iowa; for several years he and his wife, Jane, ran the Peterson Patriot newspaper.


"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning." Maya Angelou



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Jean Tennant has been writing professionally for more than 30 years. Beginning with short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, she eventually branched out to full-length work, with several novels published by Warner Books, Kensington and Silhouette. Now the owner of Shapato Publishing, LLC, in Everly, Iowa, she teaches writers' workshops throughout the Midwest, for which her schedule can be seen at: www.jeantennant.com. Jean lives in Everly with her husband, Grover Reiser, and their dogs, Kirby and Dakota. Favorite quote: "Outside of a dog, man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx.
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