Writer’s Trivial Pursuit

I love that game “Trivial Pursuit.” When it first became popular in the early ‘80s, I drove my friends crazy with all the frivolous facts I had swirling around in my head. What can I say? I enjoy discovering little nuggets of knowledge hiding in inconsequential places. (By the way, do you know that Trivial Pursuit was invented because two guys were missing a few pieces to their Scrabble game?)

Writers use trivia to add interest and even humor to their characters, plots, and settings. When used sparingly and in just the right places trivia can add depth and entertainment to your writing.

I used to keep a recipe box filled with trivia on three-by-five cards, but now I store my trivia collection on the computer. I’m always in pursuit of trivia. Whenever I find an interesting, little known, or quirky fact on a web site or in a book, I feel like I’ve just won a dollar on a scratch-off lottery ticket! Sometimes, it’s those one-dollar winners that lead to story ideas, and, who knows, maybe even publication.

Here are some of my favorites.

Do you know that . . .

Paul Revere was a dentist,

South American gauchos put raw steaks under their saddles before riding in order to tenderize the meat (meaning the steaks, of course!),

Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a belly button,

Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark,

a ten-gallon hat holds three-quarters of a gallon,

porcupines can float,

you won’t sink in quicksand if you raise your legs slowly and lay on your back,

crickets “hear” through their knees,

AND

if you feed a seagull Alka-Seltzer, its stomach will explode? (DO NOT try this at home!)

Trivia also includes the definitions of strange words. See if you can guess the meanings of these five, trip-off-the-tongue nouns:

 funambulist

Musterdevillers

zenzizenzizenzic

smellfeast

Rumbledethumps

Then to find out  if you have the correct answers visit Michael Quinion’s “World Wide Words”  HERE.

Now it’s your turn. How have you used trivia in your writing?

What do you know that most people don’t?

If you are on Facebook, please visit and “like” my Facebook page for writers. You’ll find lots of tips and links for writers, and maybe some trivia, too!

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2 Comments

Filed under Inspiration, Trivia, unusual words, words

2 responses to “Writer’s Trivial Pursuit

  1. I knew a few of these facts, such as the one about Paul Revere. Having grown up on the coast of southern NJ, I knew about the seagull and Alka Seltzer thing. There was an article in the paper about that every summer, for a few tourists and residents would always try it. Thought not as diligent as you in recording trivia, I find a lot of things stick with me. I know a little hockey trivia (my sons used to play ice and roller hockey and I got interested in it from that). For example, the NHL player who had, as of a few years ago, the longest last name is Jamie Langenbrunner. Don’t think I’ll be able to use that in my current historical fiction WIP, but it might come in handy someday. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Hi, Karen.
    Did people really try that with the seagulls? Save your Jamie Langenbrunner trivia. I can hear a ten-year-old in a story trying to impress his teacher with that.
    Hope you had a good weekend.
    Jean

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