Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vocabulary Workout

That's right, people. It's time to flex those literary muscles, shape up those sentences and condition those consonants and vowels. Bulk up on your word choices for a buff body of fiction that will make your readers drool at the very sight.

Okay, yeah, I'm on a fitness binge… again. Can you tell? Last year, for every pound I lost I seemed to gain one more and I'm ashamed to look at myself in the mirror. But enough about me. This blog is a fitness exercise for your prose.

I was watching the remake of Alfie the other night, the one starring Jude Law (yum!). He had one of those word-a-day calendars and he'd rip a page from the calendar every day and would find a way to use that word. It got me to thinking. We should all work on building up our vocabulary, don't you think? We're writers, right? Words are our business. So…

Get your fattest dictionary down off the shelf. Close your eyes and flip it open, then jab your finger down on the page. What word did you point to? I want you to do this three times, in three different sections of the dictionary. Now write a paragraph or scene using those new words.

I'd do the first as an example, but I'm on my way out the door to Les Schwab to get my brakes fixed. I'll contribute when I get back.

Try not to pull a muscle and have fun! 8^)


Paty Jager said...

Okay, I'm playing.


I've used the last word several times in my books.

Here goes:

Mark was poleaxed by the ferrite connection Sarah unleashed with her claim to be unsexed.

Alice Sharpe said...

Okay, okay, I've been stretching the muscles all morning by working on my proposal so I think I'm ready for a workout.

Had to modify you parameters as we are getting the house ready for the floors to be refinished and all the reference books are packed away. So I used my desktop dictionary, figuring I'd close my eyes and do my best.

My three words:

Loose meat sandwich (I know it's not a single word, but that's what came up.)




Professor Tootle heaved a sigh as he took in the bored faces of his newest class. Every year the kids just seemed to get duller. How could they fail to be moved by his stirring account of the peculiar but titillating mating habits of the giant white Jabiru stork? He'd even folded his arms under and approximated their stilted walk, enhanced by his own lean frame and long limbs.

Not one of them had even blinked when he mentioned the white plumage, the naked head --

Okay, one had. The girl in the corner. The thin one, with the absolutely riveting xiphisternum. If her blouse wasn't so tight to her skin, you'd never see that third and lowest segment of her breastbone -- pity more young women didn't strive for the bony look...

He took a bite of his loose meat sandwich and chewed thoughtfully. Maybe he should keep that girl after class. Yes, she showed promise. He scratched his naked dome, preened his fluffy white mustache, and took another bite, so caught up in the fantasy of his own coming mating ritual that he didn't notice she'd just keeled over.

Thanks, Karen, that was fun.

Karen Duvall said...

Back from Les Schwab and must return tomorrow because they forgot to order a part. Sheesh.

Here are my words:




Oh, brother. Hmmm...

Just a few more dead leaves to pluck off and voila! The puffy pink hardhack blooms looked great in my garden. I'd attract a few more birds now. Unfortunately, I'd attract something else that wasn't quite as pleasant.

Here it comes now. The roar was bad enough, but the Typhon's stench was strong enough to fell an elephant. It stomped around the corner of the house, its eyes dripping venom as hot lava poured from its gaping mouth. Damn, it was burning holes in my lawn and I just fertilized!

"I warned you about coming 'round uninvited," I yelled at the creature. I mean, who could hear anything over that god awful bellowing?

He closed his mouth, dribbles of lava sticking to his chin and causing tendrils of smoke to snake above his head. He blinked at me and said, "Piffle."

wavybrains said...


After the coffee cup cracked, the Presbyterian soothed herself with a nice slice of coffee cake.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks for playing, Paty. What does ferrite mean? I guess unsexed is self-explanatory.

Karen Duvall said...

Alice, I love your scene. Professor Tootle, huh? LOL! He sounds like a pedophile. Checking out the nubile girls' Xiphisternum. Makes me blush just to think! Thanks for playing. 8^)

Karen Duvall said...

I'd rather have seen a cracked Presbyterian, but, you know, a cracked cup is cool, too. Thanks for playing. 8^)

Paty Jager said...

ferrite is a magnetic substance that consists of ferric oxide combined with various metals.

Lori Barber said...

Okay, I'll play too.


She poked the rusty telescope through the bougainvillea. Peeked into every window in the adjacent apartment building. Determined to find the source of the incessant hollow thumps rattling the filling in her left molar.

Delight would have dominated her husband’s face if he hadn’t been dead for three years. He had often bragged his single scope magnifier possessed enough power to spot a mite winking. She only cared that the cold fit of the instrument in her hand would find the source of her grief and pain.

Two windows down and a direct shot from her balcony she honed in on the culprit. A half-naked man sat on a red leather hassock. His thick palms and long tapered fingers slapped the hide on his tambourin with enough vigor to flatten the long drum into a slice of parchment paper.

Muscles flexed and rolled across his chest and down his arms. Each thunderous strike escalated. Passion carried the beat to secret paths and cleared the frigid loneliness and regret she had long ago locked in her heart. A drop of perspiration took a long, slow ride down her back. Her breath escaped in a satisfied sigh.

The beat of the drum ceased. The man turned in her direction. He repositioned his percussion instrument, exposed a wide toothless grin and ignited into song again.

Alice, Ack! I don't envy you. Since January we have been in the throngs of adding more hardwood floor to our own home. We readied the hall and two bedrooms for hardwood before the contractors installed it and matched what we already had installed during our addition and remodel 8 years ago. What a big job, but it saved dollars to do the grunt and prep work ourselves. We also painted the bedrooms, added new crown moldings and new baseboards. Now we are tackling the living room. We removed two walls and raised the sunken floor (no more sunk). What a big job for us. We had to move and rewire electrical and of course the built-in vacuum system too. This room will need crown molding, new baseboard and paint also. They finished the living room floors on Saturday. They are beautiful but we are still cleaning wood dust from sanding the floors to apply two coats of sealer. We can't put the furniture back in place until the floors have dried properly. Currently, our fridge is in the nook off our kitchen and kissing the backside of my desk chair.

Karen Duvall said...

Great scene, Lori! That guy sounds pretty sexy. Thanks for playing! 8^)

Alice Sharpe said...

Lori -- This job is smaller than yours by far but it's already very disruptive. As it's refinishing of very old wood floors, the results are not going to be as gorgeous as yours. As for the rest of it -- ack is right.

Loved your scene and Karen, yours was a hoot too.

Lisa Pulliam said...

Fun exercise! And niiiice picture ;) Does this kind of workout burn fat? *crosses fingers* please say yes...please say yes...


That man had an ego the size of Jupiter. She dug her fingers into her palm, welcoming the crescent-shaped slices of pain. If she heard him brag about being a polyglot one more time, she wouldn't be able to restrain herself from sticking her stiletto heel in his eye, the loony jackass.

"And did you know that geckos have suction cups on their feet? It's why we've seen them crawling on the ceiling of our hotel room." He flashed a lecherous grin.

She could handle a week in Hawaii with this scumbag narcissist. After all, there are worse things one could do for a million bucks. Right?

Lisa Pulliam said...

These are so fun to read!! Great stories everyone :) I think I'm going to try this as a warm-up exercise to get me going on my WIP. Thanks Karen!