Versus vs. Verse

Here’s another example of the language changing due to ignorance, which is something that bothers me because I am one of Those People.

Before anybody jumps on that statement to point out that language is always changing and it’s pedantic and fruitless to try to stop it, I’d like to say that I do know this. However, I make a distinction between:

  • changes that occur because we need new meanings and new words to express stuff that humans need to express (good or at least acceptable changes),
  • changes that occur because people are ignorant and lazy and not lovers of words (bad changes that I can’t do anything about, but that I like to complain about).

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Coveting the Perfect House

I covet a house on Country Way. Please understand, I live in a perfectly fine house. My house is not being foreclosed on.

Anticipating increasing difficulty in climbing stairs (I have problem legs), I had my two-story saltbox renovated a decade ago and now live downstairs in roomy splendor. Alone. A fireplace, a walk-in large tiled shower with a built-in tiled bench, a soaring living room ceiling, a separate office where my Muse comes to sit beside me as I spin my stories at the computer. All this is for me alone, now that my two girls have grown up and moved out and on to live their own lives.
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2WB Dialogs: What’s your story?

Welcome to the Two Writing Buddies dialogs (2WB for those in the know), one of a series of posts in which we talk about our creative process and issues that arise in our writing.

Robine: Denise, you and I approach the daunting task of creating back stories for our characters quite differently. Unlike you, when I sit down to write–at least in works longer than my 750-to-800-word “vignettes”–I like to have a clear idea of where I’m going. Not that I need to outline the entire novel and set it in stone, but I do need to make a road map.

Two aspects of that road map for me are

(1) creating the “what-if” sentence:

What if a woman pushing forty, who agreed to a child-free marriage to a man 10 years her senior, now wants a child of her own, but finds her world turned upside down with the appearance of 6-year-old boy her husband had fathered with another woman on the day before her wedding to him.

and (2) creating the back stories of the main characters.
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2WB Dialogs: Lively characters

Welcome to the Two Writing Buddies dialogs (2WB for those in the know), one of a series of posts in which we talk about our creative process and issues that arise in our writing.

Denise: Hey Robine. I’m currently obsessed with creating some new characters for my latest story. Do you have any advice on bringing characters to life?

Robine: H-m-m-m ….[thinking] …. I don’t have much experience writing fictional characters, but the technique I use to bring people/characters alive in my “vignettes,” the little stories of real events and people that I sketch in my First Person Singular column for the Scituate Mariner, is probably similar. I try to give the reader a “visual” of the character. Instead of a lengthy, boring description of eye color, hair, shape, size, clothes, blah, blah, blah, I try to pick a couple of telling, unique features or characteristics of the person.

For example, here are two people from two of my vignettes. From “A Summer Day” (this story is posted in this blog):

John had a wide mouth, a shock of untamed brown hair, and a hearty deep-chested rumble of a laugh.

and from “Mrs. Cleveland and the Dickens:”

Mrs. Cleveland was a small lady with a scrunched-together face, a little like an apple left too long in the fridge’s fruit drawer…. Her false teeth clacked, which made me wonder whether her gums had shrunken too.

Note also that, at least in these two cases, I’ve asked the reader not only to picture the characters but aslo to “hear” them–i.e., rumbling laugh, clacking teeth.
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