Monday, March 5, 2012

What Would We Do Without Words?

Words. We cannot write without them. If you think about it, they are pretty amazing things. As writers, we artfully place them just so, and before we know it, we've created ideas, stories, and other wonderful things. Even on those days when we don't feel like we've placed them so artfully, we still have something we can revise, don't we?

Words roll off our tongues, rattle around in our heads, place images in our mind's eye, and fly from our fingertips on to a computer screen. They can soothe, encourage, and minister. What a wonderful gift from our creator!

I include an assignment in the Coffeehouse for Writers class that requires students to create a log of interesting, emotionally charged, or unusual words. They are encouraged to separate them into categories such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, quotations, puns, names, places, and emotions.

For example, I once happened across the phrase a riot of autumn color, and can still picture the scene that the book spoke of. Words like odoriferous and babushka made my list too.

If one is so inclined, a list like this can be expanded each time a new item is discovered. It's a great way to fuel writing ideas, don't you think?

Got a minute or two to spare? :)

I invite you to hop over to Marja Meijers' blog where I'm being interviewed today.


I'm working on a little giveaway and a few other features for my third blogoversary this month. Details will follow soon!

Do you keep a log of interesting words, phrases, or quotes? Share one or two with us, won't you?

Happy writing,

Copyright 2012. No part of this post may be copied without written permission from the author, Karen Lange.

Image credit: Stock Exchange


  1. Sometimes word combinations or a word used in a specific context blows me away. I wish I were that talented.

    Recent two-word combo that impressed me in Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Un-palatial palaces.

  2. I used to keep a little journal of phrases I loved when I first began to write. Now I try hard to think of my own!!

  3. I don't keep a log, but that's a great idea! Hm... maybe I should start one.

  4. Hi Karen .. words - crazy things .. I did start keeping quote lists etc .. but then it all gets out of hand - too many lists ... so I gave up.

    If something I'm thinking about comes to mind - I jot it down .. I think I should keep a note book for day to day things .. and try and get away from many bits of paper - scruff and otherwise!

    I'll be over to Marja's blog .. cheers Hilary

  5. I love those interesting words or phrases, and try really hard to put quick bits of them in my stories. There are some authors that are really amazing at this, which really inspires me!

  6. I love unusual words. It's fun to browse through the dictionary and land upon some goodies!

    ~ Wendy

  7. I love words and keep quotes and one-liners in a diary...
    Happy and honored to have you over at my blog!
    Have a great week and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary!

  8. Theresa,
    I know, me too, and it's really fun to come across them, isn't it? Un=palatial - I'll have to remember that!

    I wonder if these nuggets help us get more creative? Would love to hear some of your originals!

    You should give it a try! :)

    Oh, like you, I have scraps of paper everywhere! I think I am organized but in reality am not as much as I think! :) Oh well, something to aim for this year, right?

    Oh I know; I aspire to be such an author! They really do inspire.

    Thanks so much! :)

    I know, it is! Ever play the dictionary game? Or even Balderdash, where they have all those interesting words?

    I keep a Word file with quotes. It started out as a topic sentence list for students, but I've found it has many uses. Honored and happy to be at your blog too. Thanks so much! :)


  9. My Mac keyboard sits atop one of those huge calendar pads from Staples. Up in the right hand corner, I have words like: courteous, acronyns, dereliction, soliloquy. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I wrote them down, but it must have been enough to warrant taking the time out to do so.

    Off to visit you over at "Fresh Insights"...

  10. Keeping a word list is a great idea!!!
    One of my writing students last year used this descriptive phrase that I can't forget - lime green lamborghini, and then in a picture book my kids used to read long ago, Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, there is this description I still remember - his breath smelled like dirty, rotten, moldy wet feet - or something gross along those lines.

  11. I love words and the power they hold over my characters. With the flick of just one well placed word, the characters in my stories can be boondoggled (one of my fav's) into a wasteful situation. (Tried to make it work, anyway.) Hugs amigo.

  12. Joylene,
    I am sure that there is some genius reason behind saving them, and it will hit you one of these days! :) Thanks for stopping at Marja's!

    Wow, now there are some great images! And kids, I know, often prefer the gross, don't they? lol Mine had their moments where they did. :)

    Love that word and can see how it's so useful! Reminds me of some words my Mom used to use, like conniption. Good stuff, amigo!


  13. Hello Karen...Enjoyed the interview with Marja. Congratulations!

    I love words. Sometimes I make up words, such as "yummified" or "splendorifffic."

    Words to a writer are like breath to life! Take care. Susan

  14. Oh how we love words.


  15. I, like many writers, love words. I tend to make up my own; fore-fearful, dish machine, fly bat, tie-niney and use them enough that my family picks them up.

  16. There are certain word combinations form my favorite books I'll always remember.

    Going to your interview now!

  17. Susan,
    Thank you for hopping over there! I appreciate it. I know, our family has a good handful of words we've made up over the years. Perhaps these words should make it into a story sometime!

    Yes, we do! I'm glad you concur. :)

    Me too. I think your words that your family uses is an inspiration. Certainly something you will get credit for down the road, too!

    I know! I think they make a book more memorable, don't you?


  18. I love how God not only gave us a way to communicate, but that He made it so words can also be a form of art.

    Great post, Karen!

  19. Every time I read something that is such a perfect word or phrase, it literally stops me and I have to say it aloud. Those are some of my favorite moments when I read and kudos to the authors that can create such imagery with only a word or three. :)

  20. Earlier like Terri I too would jot down words or phrases that fascinated me. I hope I am able to write something that will take someone's breath away.

  21. Words are awesome.

  22. Sarah,
    Oh yes - good point! Thanks for sharing that. :)

    I know, I like to turn those kinds of things around in my head too. Kind of fuels the inspiration, you know?

    Oh, that would be awesome - we need to keep at it! :)

    They are indeed! Appreciate your thoughts.


  23. Words are indeed a wonder. I just love to play with them!

  24. Lisa,
    I know it! Me too! :)

    Thanks a bunch!


  25. Hi Karen -

    I don't keep a list, but I should. Maybe my new journal would make an interesting home for it. :)


  26. Messing with words is the best way to live.

    One of my favourites is 'scullery.' Not sure why, perhaps because I write Histroical Romance, but I love the sound it makes as I say it. It's hard and cold, like many of the stone troughs scullery maids worked at, and has a ring to it which makes me think 'hard work.'

    Bless you, xx

  27. I love words!!! But I'm not nearly creative enough with them. Not how I'd like to be.

  28. Susan,
    Yes, I think that new purple journal would be just right for that! :D

    I agree! Yes, "scullery" is an interesting one. I remember my Mom saying how she felt like a scullery maid if she had to do the dishes when she was a kid. :)

    I do too. I suspect that you are a lot more clever than you might think! Not everyone gets a book contract, so you must do pretty well with words, I'm thinking! :)


  29. Nice blog. As a lover of words you might be interested in the word play involved in cryptic crosswords. I am doing a series of posts on solving cryptic clues. This was the first one I did. Hope you enjoy.

  30. Carole,
    Thank you for coming by and offering your thoughts. It's good to meet you! Will check out the link!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!