Words–Their Weft & Warp 24

Words. Unusual words. Forgotten words. Foreign words. And some whose authenticity one may question, but are fun anyway. In other words, not your average grade 4 spelling list. Enjoy!

Sprachgefühl (Shprackh-geh-fyool)
(n) the character and spirit of a language; an intuitive sense of the rule and rhythm of a language

(adj) amazing, wondrous; working wonders



benjamin-moore-paints-chip-color-swatch-sample-and-palette712-x-358xIn other words…Colours. Here’s something to help with colours in writing.

I recently read the first chapters of someone else’s work, by the end of which he’d repeatedly used the word ‘brown’ to describe the horses, the whatchamacallits, the whozits and the thingamagigs. He hadn’t noticed til I pointed it out. And yet he is a writer of considerable imagination and descriptive power.

Yes the dinglehoppers were brown, but why not toss in a little chestnut, or say the thingy was ‘of a shade resembling dried cow dung?’ Give your reader a chuckle.

It is true in many cases that men see colours in more conglomerate tones. There is medically proven-some difference in the receptors blah blah blah. Where most women break down purple into, eggplant, mauve, lilac, aubergine, plum, lavendar, mulberry, even dusk, men will puzzle their brows for a moment and if they’re lucky, a light bulb will float above their head and they’ll say, “Oh! Purple!” Again, I generalize.colors

So, addressing colours in writing. We don’t want to litter our writing with ultramarine, ivory, maroon, heliotrope, lemon, flame, wisteria, azure,cardinal, celadon, cerulean, chartreuse, goldenrod, indigo, mazarine. . . I could go on ad nausem. But neither do we want to flog ‘brown’ to absolute death.

How to deal?

1–Use a basic colour name when you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to something, but just want to paint a basic picture for the reader.

2–If you want something to be noted more specifically, tag a good adjective in front of the basic colour (avoiding clichés like ‘flaming red’), or use a step-2 colour name like mauve–a little above basic and universally known.

3–At this level you want something to stand out. When you want to imply something indirectly. For example, a lady walks into the room. “Her silver heels sparkle out from under her trailing aubergine gown, shimmering dusk in the ambient light, as does her jet black hair, looped gracefully along her neck.”

I could have said, “Her silver heels showed beneath a long purple gown”. . . Snoring. . . Instead, the first description also sets the mood in the room and gives us an impression of the woman without  relaying any physical description.

Word of caution before you wax eloquent with colour descriptions: Using the variant of brown above, “a shade resembling dried cow dung,” don’t use it to describe the hair of your fianceé. And don’t use “lemon yellow chiffon” to describe the pus from a zombie infection. No reader will be able to eat lemons again.


Here’s a couple of links for fancy-pants colours to help you paint the writing town red Alizarin crimson:





Words–Their Weft & Warp 23

Words. Unusual words. Forgotten words. Foreign words. And some whose authenticity one may question, but are fun anyway. In other words, not your average grade 4 spelling list. Enjoy!

(n)something twisting and turning: maze-like and confusing

(adj.) peevish; tipsyor slightly intoxicated

(n) an artfully veiled insult


In Depth Creativity Prompt

  1. Characteristics: Please circle up to ten of these:
unstable conscientious rebellious upright
shaken criminal uptight treasonous
hypocritical self-appointed self-centered adventurous
dedicated driven energetic exuberant
intrepid rugged flitty bored
disinterested crippled languid lethargic
charming frank elegant generous
  1. Fill in these:

This person has ___________skin, ___________eyes and _____________hair.
They have a ___________ ________shaped face and _________________eyes.
They are __’ __”  and have a _________________ build.
Their clothes are ______________ fashioned and they prefer them to be ___________ coloured.
They often wear __________________________________________________.
A notable feature is_________________________________.(impediment, habit, etc.)

  1. Circle a number:

6       9       12       15       17       21

  1. Create an old world Pub or Shop names: You need a noun and an adjective or two. Ex:

The Bofors Gun And Giblets
The Bull And Politician
The Horse’s Replacement
The Dog’s Breakfast
The King’s Legs

Extra slots here for practice:
  1. Here are the names of some exotic food dishes. Choose one or two and explain what they are:
    a. Kopi luwak
    Casu marzu
  2. Choose one adjective and one location to combine:
Wild Paris
Cloistered (or pastoral) Ghost town
Quarantined Moor
Crime-ridden Quarry
Nefarious Mountain
Ancient Fair grounds
Bustling An Alley
Infested Rainforest
Communal Harbour
Cheerless An oasis
Chilling The Colosseum
  1. Circle weather from below or list your own. One is enough.
Ball lightning Ice storm tornado Cats & dogs
Sand storm Debris Cloud Humidity Blustery
El Nino Flash flood Flotsam and Jetsam earthquake
Greenhouse effect Cumulo nimbus Tsunami Heat wave
  1. Circle 5 nouns:
button circle chin committee
company distribution edge insect
ink flight ground hole
kettle horses morning pancake
mountain sidewalk pencil song
spiders push quicksand scent
writer veil window spy
stove summer stretch crime
  1. Circle 1 item: This will be your McGuffin. — n.) an object or event in a book or a film that serves as the impetus for the plot.
  1. Just a few themes to think about before we write: Circle one:
Bondage/Enslavement Crossroads & Choices Danger
Death Deception Doomsday
Evil Family Freedom
Friendship Health Hope
Turmoil Isolation Knowledge
Loss Love Mystery
Perseverance Pride Purity
Sacrifice Duty Conformity
Greed Betrayal Rebirth

Righty-ho. Now we write:

  1. Take the characteristics from #1 and #2. The circled number at #3 is their age. Choose a gender and name the person.
  1. #4 shows where they are, #5 shows what they are eating.
  1. Write down the location with adjective from #6 and the circled weather from #7
  1. Tag on your 5 nouns from #8, add your MacGuffin from #9 and theme from #10:
  1. You may begin! And you must use as much of the set up as possible.

Words–Their Weft & Warp 22

Words. Unusual words. Forgotten words. Foreign words. And some whose authenticity one may question, but are fun anyway. In other words, not your average grade 4 spelling list. Enjoy!

(adj) withered: incredibly exhausted

Schadenfreude [Shad'--en--froyd--eh]
(n) delight obtained from the suffering of others

(n) a trivial quarrel


Journal Your Characters

Do you need a new method to tackle a new novel? Is your current one not gelling like it should? Here’s something that might work for you.

As my first manuscript is undergoing what I hope is the last revision before submission (cross your fingers for me, peeps) I am beginning another one separate from that series.

A whole new world to explore, a whole new set of characters and a a new protagonist who likes to make herself known, very different from Lexi in my first book. But the idea for this novel, again for middle grade readers, spawned from a series of photos as a setting, not a story line. So I took the setting, brainstormed a protagonist who might fit into it, and just a whispery spidersilk of an idea.

So, how to flesh this out? How do I get to know my cast of characters and see where this takes me? How do I find out what my spunky Octavia has to say about what’s going on around her and to her?

A favourite author of mine uses scrapbooks and a journal to collect images, research and notes about her stories.  I decided to adapt that to my use. 20140616_173110

Since the story idea sprung from images, I created an album of pictures that could populate my story: buildings, scenes, people and actions. I knew I wanted Octavia to live with her family in a mansion of some sort with a village nearby. I searched for mansions on google maps. It’s amazing how close you can zoom in. I found a small castle that fit the image in my mind, but it was in Belgium, so I “moved” it to an area of England that suited my needs better. In Kent I found a little village with a river alongside and room for the castle on the other bank of this river, (that part’s important,) and voila! I printed maps of the area, tailored to suit my needs and printed them out large. Bits of fact and bits of fiction.20140616_173359

I love journals. So I bought 2. A dollar store one for rough, off the cuff notes and scribbles, bare bones ideas and questions. The second is a nicer one with a hardboard fabric cover that lies open beautifully for easy writing. This second one has become Octavia’s journal. In it I write, in her voice, totally random scenes that I am exploring for possible use in the story. I also wrote up a list of people’s names from which I can draw when I need a barber, or a shopkeeper, or an electrician or a school bully.

I have many quick reference lists in this journal,about Octavia’s quirks, her weaknesses and strengths, her likes and dislikes. (For this I used the mobile app Writers’ Lists–incredibly handy app.)

Like a scrapbook, I insert pictures–from the internet, magazines, catalogues–that inspire me and I use those like firestarters. And so I write all sorts of things that might go through Octavia’s head, things she might experience. I explore her relationship with her cousin, her friend, her parents. I discover how she reacts in situations. It’s like whenever you make a new friend or acquaintance–you don’t know them all at once, you have to go through hell and high water to understand them. And when I know my protagonist well, I will understand what she needs thrown at her to make her story worth reading.

Besides that, this way it’s a heck of a lot of fun and keeps the journey interesting!