Words Invented by Writers

A sneetchThere is more to creative writing than just making up stories and characters that often seem very real. In some ways making up stuff is one of the perks of being a writer. A writer can live in imaginary worlds and can even make up words such as scrutchel (a word I just made up which should mean: using a word that doesn’t exist as a crutch for not wanting to actually find one that means what you want to say).

Writer’s have been creating words for thousands of years. Dr. Seuss made up hundreds of words himself (zummers, spazzim, thnadners, sneedle, yuzz, thneeds, and sneetches to list just a few).

However, many words created recently by writers have become so common in our daily usage that we might be surprised to discover where they came from.

A list of words created by writers that I found in The Guardian had a couple surprises for me. For instance, I always thought Banana Republic was  just the name of a store, taken from the slang description of any unstable dictatorship, usually in South or Central America. Not so. The word was created by the writer, O. Henry  in 1904.

Check out the other nine words in this list some of  them might  surprise you. The top 10 words invented by writers.

Anyway, next time you write something, even if it’s just a note or memo to  your boss, look for an opportunity to make up a word. You might be surprised how much fun it is.



Review: Black and White


cover 'Black and White' by David MaccaulayDavid Maccauley has written a picture book that borders on being an experience rather than a story. While it appears to be intended for children, I wonder about that. The story is sort a puzzle that children are likely to solve while adults are likely to find it difficult. I think that may be because it’s not a traditional book. It’s quite a complicated little book with four (or more) stories linked (perhaps) in some way other than sequential (perhaps).

Commuters are waiting for a train. A boy is waiting for his parents. Another boy is waiting for his train ride to end. The train is waiting for some cows to get off the tracks so it can be on its way. The problem for most readers is, I think, that each part of the story does not proceed in an expected way and the story has to be assembled or simply experienced.

Instead it is like seeing a number of images and being given the task of tying them all together so that there is an understandable conclusion. That’s the fun of this book, trying to find ways to tie the pieces together. I think most children can do it. However, most adults will find it difficult until they realize the book does not tell its stories in a traditional way. Again, it’s like giving your child a handful of pictures and asking the child to find ways the pictures are alike. That could be a fun project on a rainy afternoon.