Category Archives: Creativity

What Is Big Enough for a Dolomphious Duck to Catch a Frog In?

Christy_NaMee_Eriksen_-_All_These_Words_are_Made_Up_01a_1024x1024Answer: a runcible spoon! Just one of many made-up words and phrases coined by Edward Lear. “Higher-cynths” and “Lower-cynths” are two others.

Made-up words (nouns, verbs, modifiers) used sparingly can add speculation, surprise, poetry and humor to your writing. They work best in children’s books. Just be sure to use them in ways that provide readers with a sense of what they mean.

You can make up nonsense words:

“And oh, what a terrible country it is! Nothing but thick jungles infested by the most dangerous beasts in the entire world — hornswogglers and snozzwangers and those terrible wicked whangdoodles. A whangdoodle would eat ten Oompa-Loompas for breakfast and come galloping back for a second helping.” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—Roald Dahl)

Combine existing words:

Lewis Carroll created what he called “portmanteau words” (The blending of preexisting words. The word “brunch” and “tween” are examples). Carroll explained:

“For instance, take the two words “fuming” and “furious”. Make up your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will say first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts incline ever so little towards “fuming”, you will say “fuming-furious”; if they turn, by even a hair’s breadth, towards “furious”, you will say “furious-fuming”; but if you have that rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say “frumious.”

Turn nouns into verbs, verbs into nouns, adverbs or adjectives:

verbing_weirds_language(Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson, 1993)

Examples: Google it; “Let’s do lunch”; Supposably 

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You can add humor to character dialogue by using malaprops:

Malapropism was one of Stan Laurel’s comic mannerisms. In “Sons Of The Desert”, for example, he says that Oliver Hardy is suffering a nervous “shakedown” (rather than “breakdown”), and calls the exalted ruler of their group the “exhausted ruler”; in “The Music Box”, he inadvertently asked a policeman, “Don’t you think you’re bounding over your steps?” meaning “stepping over your bounds”

Remember: Always have a motive for using made-up words and phrases. Use them cautiously and in moderation to add flavor to your writing and evoke a specific feeling from your readers.

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Filed under Creativity, descriptive writing, fun with words, neologisms, Uncategorized, unusual words, words

5 Things to Do If You Lose Your Muse

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We writers think of a muse as a source of inspiration, a guiding genius rife with ideas. But what if you lose your muse? What if she takes a vacation or bails because she’s sick and tired of working for you!

Here are five things you can do if you lose your muse.

1. Maintain a mob of muses. It’s risky business to rely on just one muse, so have more waiting in the wings. Muses come in many forms. They inspire us through words, music, pictures and the great outdoors. A muse might even be a real person, maybe your very best writing buddy. You can find some muses online at:

Fun with Words. Grab a cup of coffee and get inspired.

Pinterest. Did you know that you can look around without signing up? Type any topic into the search bar, and you’ll find tons of pictures to inspire you. Click on any picture to go to its website.

Pandora Radio. Set up a free account. Type in the name of a music genre, artist, song or composer, and Pandora will build a playlist for you. Pandora, and other similar sites, are perfect for music inspiration!

Virtual Travel sites, like Armchair Travel Company, take you on virtual tours around the world. Explore the Taj Mahal, a Russian submarine, Westminster Abbey and more. There are many online travel sites, so dig around for one you love and add it to your muse mob.

2. Call in the retired muses. Pull out all those old manuscripts and brainstorming lists. The muses you sent into retirement in earlier writing days might still be there waiting patiently for you to rediscover their wisdom and creativity.

3. Be your own muse. Well-known writing teacher Natalie Goldberg says, “Just keep your hand moving and write!” For ten minutes, write whatever comes into your head. You might find your own inspiration hiding in the gibberish.

4. Go museless for a while. Leave your missing-muse crisis behind. Get out, and do something fun. Muses sometimes like slipping into your house when you’re not there. What a surprise if when you return you find one waiting for you!

5. Give your muse the silent treatment. Stop begging her to come back. Some muses are very shy. They like to whisper gently to you in quiet thoughts. In her article, “6 (Easy!) Ways Anyone Can Become a Writer,” Natalie Goldberg writes, “Silence can be the door to listening, which is one of the great cornerstones to writing.” Be quiet, and listen carefully to your thoughts. Someone might be speaking to you.

And remember—be good to your muse.
Sing to her sometimes!

LYRICS

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Filed under Creativity, Encouragement, Inspiration, Movtivation, Uncategorized, Writer's Block