Tag Archives: Word

Word of the Day Wednesday: atavism

at·a·vism noun \ˈa-tə-ˌvi-zəm\

Definition of ATAVISM
1
a :  recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination

b :  recurrence of or reversion to a past style, manner, outlook, approach, or activity <architectural atavism>

2
:  one that manifests atavism :  throwback
at·a·vis·tic adjective
at·a·vis·ti·cal·ly adverb

Origin of ATAVISM

French atavisme, from Latin atavus ancestor, from at- (probably akin to atta daddy) + avus grandfather

First Known Use: 1833

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

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Word of the Day Wednesday: pugnacious

pug·na·cious adjective \ˌpəg-ˈnā-shəs\: showing a readiness or desire to fight or argue

Full Definition of PUGNACIOUS
:  having a quarrelsome or combative nature :  truculent
pug·na·cious·ly adverb
pug·na·cious·ness noun
pug·nac·i·ty noun

Origin of PUGNACIOUS

Latin pugnac-, pugnax, from pugnare to fight

First Known Use: 1642

Related to PUGNACIOUS

Synonyms
aggressive, agonistic, argumentative, assaultive, bellicose, brawly, chippy, combative, confrontational, contentious, discordant, disputatious, feisty, gladiatorial, militant, belligerent, quarrelsome, scrappy, truculent, warlike
Antonyms
nonaggressive, nonbelligerent, pacific, peaceable, peaceful, unbelligerent, uncombative, uncontentious

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

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Word of the Day Wednesday: bellicose

bel·li·cose adjective \ˈbe-li-ˌkōs\: having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

 Full Definition of BELLICOSE
:  favoring or inclined to start quarrels or wars
bel·li·cos·i·ty noun

Examples of BELLICOSE

  1. <bellicose hockey players who always seem to spend more time fighting than playing>
  2. Never in peacetime, perhaps, have the statements of our government officials been more relentlessly bellicose. Yet their actions have been comparatively cautious. —New Yorker, 24 June 1985

Origin of BELLICOSE

Middle English, from Latin bellicosus, from bellicus of war, from bellum war

First Known Use: 15th century

Related to BELLICOSE

Synonyms
aggressive, agonistic, argumentative, assaultive, belligerent, brawly, chippy, combative, confrontational, contentious, discordant, disputatious, feisty, gladiatorial, militant, pugnacious, quarrelsome, scrappy, truculent, warlike
Antonyms
nonaggressive, nonbelligerent, pacific, peaceable, peaceful, unbelligerent, uncombative, uncontentious

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

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Word of the Day Wednesday: impetuous

im·pet·u·ous

adjective \im-ˈpech-wəs; –ˈpe-chə-, -chü-əs\

: acting or done quickly and without thought : controlled by emotion rather than thought

1:  marked by impulsive vehemence or passion <an impetuous temperament>
2:  marked by force and violence of movement or action <an impetuous wind>
im·pet·u·ous·ly adverb
im·pet·u·ous·ness noun


Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

The Word of the Day started with this post.

 

Word of the Day Wednesday: egregious

egre·gious adjective \i-ˈgrē-jəs\: very bad and easily noticed.

1 archaic :  distinguished
2:  conspicuous; especially :  conspicuously bad :  flagrant <egregious errors> <egregious padding of the evidence>
egre·gious·ly adverb
egre·gious·ness noun
 

Synonyms
blatant, conspicuous, flagrant, glaring, gross, obvious, patent, pronounced, rank, striking

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

 

Word of the Day Wednesday: felicitous

fe·lic·i·tous adjective \fi-ˈli-sə-təs\: very well suited for some purpose or situation.

1:  very well suited or expressed :  apt <a felicitous remark>
2:  pleasant, delightful <felicitous weather>
fe·lic·i·tous·ly adverb
fe·lic·i·tous·ness noun

Synonyms

agreeable, blessed (also blest), congenial, darling, delectable, delicious, delightful, delightsome, dreamy, dulcet, enjoyable, pleasant, good, grateful, gratifying, heavenly, jolly, luscious, nice, palatable, pleasing, pleasurable, pretty, satisfying, savory (also savoury), sweet, tasty, welcome
Antonyms
disagreeable, pleasureless, unpalatable, unpleasant, unwelcome

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

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Word of the Day Wednesday: mephistopheles

It’s been a while since I’ve published the Word of the Day. It started with my daughter as explained in this post. We took a little break from the Word of the Day during the summer. I only taught her a handful of new words during that time.

When she told me she had to come up with a nickname at school using the first letter of her name and she settled on the Capricious Catfish (lol), I knew I had to resurrect the Word of the Day again. She chose the word because she likes it, not because it describes her. Seriously, she has one mood: happy.

I’ve decided to limit the post to Wednesdays. Today’s word appears in the lyrics from this past Musical Monday (OneRepublic’s Love Runs Out) and another from several months ago (Wrapped Around Your Finger by The Police).

Meph·is·toph·e·les noun \ˌme-fə-ˈstä-fə-ˌlēz\

:  a chief devil in the Faust legend.

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

 

Word of the Day: espy

es·py transitive verb \is-ˈpī\

: to see or notice (someone or something)

es·piedes·py·ing

Full Definition of ESPY

:  to catch sight of <among the several horses … she espied the white mustang — Zane Grey>

Examples of ESPY

  1. eye I espied the squirrel making another raid on the bird feeder>

Origin of ESPY

Middle English espien, from Anglo-French espier — more at spy

First Known Use: 14th century

Related to ESPY

Synonyms
behold, catch, descry, discern, distinguish, see, eye, look (at), note, notice, observe, perceive, regard, remark, sight, spot, spy, view, witness

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

The Word of the Day started with this post.

Word of the Day: luxe

luxe adjective \ˈlks, ˈləks, ˈlüks\

Definition of LUXE

:  luxurious, sumptuous
luxe noun

Examples of LUXE

  1. <we stayed only in luxe accommodations on the trip through the Loire Valley>

Origin of LUXE

French, from Latin luxus — more at luxury

First Known Use: 1888

Related to LUXE

Synonyms
Babylonian, deluxe, lavish, Lucullan (also Lucullian), luxurious, luxuriant, luxury, opulent, palace, palatial, plush, plushy, silken, sumptuous
Antonyms
ascetic (also ascetical), austere, humble, no-frills, spartan

Definition source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

The Word of the Day started with this post.

The Writing Book That Helped Me Win NaNoWriMo

Yesterday I discussed my strategy (for lack of a better word) at the kickoff of NaNoWriMo and how ill-prepared I was to write a novel. I was following in the footsteps of King and Bradbury. Silly girl, so out of your league. I had written a novel by the seat of my pants before. Surely, I could do it again. Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, certainly not in the time frame allotted. 

Maybe King and Bradbury didn’t need to plan their stories, but somewhere in those brilliant minds I believe there was a plan, just not documented. For us less talented people, we need guidance, a model and that is just what Larry Brooks provides in his book Story Engineering. I created a model in Excel based on what I learned from the book. I merged it with my timeline, so it’s a little too intricate to share in this post, but I searched the web for a summarized version and found one here.

As you can see, there are certain milestones that should occur at predefined (but not rigidly set) points in the story to increase the dramatic tension and keep the reader engaged. The book goes into a deeper level of detail. If you read it and follow the model you won’t be at a loss about what to write and when. The model provides the structure to set the right pacing and tension for your story. If you deploy one of these milestones too early or too late, you risk losing the reader.

Are you still not sure you need a model? I didn’t think I did either until I hit that wall. Here is what Brooks has to say on the subject of organic writing:

“Many writers just sit down and write without a recipe. A story may or may not emerge, and that lucky writer may or may not be cognizant of the presence of the various structural elements and storytelling presence—the recipe—required.”

“While organic writers are often loath to admit it, the very drafting process they advocate is nothing other than a process of searching for and blueprinting their story, one iteration at a time, until they arrive at a solid sequential structure for it.”

“King’s approach—known as organic writing or, in some circles, pantsing (for seat-of-the-pants storytelling)—may actually work for some, but that’s only if a) you know what you’re doing to the extent that you don’t need to plan out your story; b) you somehow stumble upon the proper structural sequence and intuitively meet all the criteria for the various essential components; and c) you’re willing to complete the inevitable rewrites that come with writing without a story plan.”

“Those published writers who, like King, just start writing their stories from an initial idea do so using an informed sensibility about, and working knowledge of, story architecture. And yet, this is the default approach for nearly every new writer and a startling percentage of established ones, published and non published alike.”

Brooks provided many analogies in his book to emphasize this point. Here are a few:

 Recipe Analogy

“Consider a chef preparing a gourmet dish as an apt analogy for writing a story. First, the chef acquires all the ingredients called for in the recipe. There are basic principles to follow (eggs Benedict, for example, doesn’t fly without eggs, ham, an English muffin, and hollandaise sauce); still, there is room for the chef to play with the recipe to make it his own creation.”

Architecture Analogy

“Just as an engineer relies on an architecturally sound blueprint to build a structure that will bear weight and resist the elements—a vision and a plan based on proven physics and structural dynamics—writers can benefit from approaching the craft of storytelling armed with a keen command of the literary equivalent. It’s unthinkable that an engineer and an architect would meet at the construction site one day and just start digging holes and pouring concrete.

Writing is no different. We build our stories on a foundation of structurally sound principles. But from there we depend on something less definable and teachable to elevate our work. To raise it to something that publishers will buy and readers will consume and embrace.”

Human Body Analogy

“Human beings bring only a handful of facial features to the blueprint of how we look—two eyes, two eyebrows, a nose, a mouth, a pair of cheekbones, and two ears, all pasted onto a somewhat ovular-to-round face. That particular blueprint doesn’t often vary much, either. Interestingly enough, this is about the same number of essential storytelling parts and milestones that each and every story needs to showcase in order to be successful.

Now, consider this: With only these eleven variables to work with, ask yourself how often you see two people who look exactly alike. Where we humans are concerned, the miracle of originality resides in the Creator, who applies an engineering-driven process—eleven variables—to an artistic outcome.”

There are seven billion people on the planet. How often do you see two people who look exactly alike? Yet we all have the same basic structure underneath. His model provides the basic structure of every successful story without limiting the writer’s creativity. Brooks tells us “with some isolated and therefore irrelevant, exceptions, every published novel or produced screenplay delivers on each of the Six Core Competencies described in this model, at least to some degree. Even if the author doesn’t recognize it, or happened to back into them after multiple drafts. And even then, the really successful ones take them to a level of integration that defies definition. That become artful.”

So what are the six core competencies?

  1. Concept-The idea that evolves into a platform for a story.
  2. Character-Every story needs a hero. We don’t need to like him, but we do need to root for him.
  3. Theme-What your story is illuminating about life.
  4. Structure-What happens and in what order.
  5. Scene Execution-A story is a series of scenes with connective tissue and guidelines to make them work.
  6. Writing Voice-The suit of clothes that delivers the story to the reader.

The list only touches the surface of what is covered in the book. Maybe, like me, you had a basic understanding of the core competencies. I’ve read dozens of books on the craft of writing, but this is the first one that provided clarity on how it all worked together. This book will take your understanding of the writing process, story structure, and hopefully your writing, to a higher level.

To learn more about the competencies and how to deploy them properly in your novel, you will need to read the book.