Give Your Writing Creative Power with This Magic Number

Dies Irae
Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Latin Requiem Hymn

What number do these have in common?

  •  mile limit of international law
  • Hector’s body dragged around Troy’s walls
  • geometrical figure regarded as perfect by the ancient Greeks

Did you guess?

Let me make it easier.

  • Cerberus
  • Shakespeare’s witches
  • Billy Goats Gruff
  • Goldilocks’s bears

Got it now?  Continue reading Give Your Writing Creative Power with This Magic Number

What Martin Luther King, Jr. Can Teach Us About Creative Power Writing

MLK's "I Have a Dream"
Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaims, “I Have a Dream”

A Dream of Peace

After the recent horrific terrorist attacks, it’s comforting to remember someone who advocated change without assassinating cartoonists or eradicating entire towns. We celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday. King was electrifying, and as a speaker he drew on his experience as a charismatic preacher. He also pulled from an enormous stock of rhetorical devices to add even more creative power and evoke emotion. His now-famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., employed dozens of these, including charged words (last week’s topic!).  Continue reading What Martin Luther King, Jr. Can Teach Us About Creative Power Writing

The Shocking Truth about Charged Words

Danger: Words
Danger: Words
Your mama is so fat… Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
The “N” word I have a dream…
Death panels I win!
Danger! Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows
Our little girl has cancer Free kittens!
Hijacked jets destroy twin towers Je suis Charlie

Sweet Emotion

What do the words and phrases in the above columns have in common? They are “charged words”—words and phrases that, by their very sounds, definitions, connotations, or denotations, evoke a strong emotion in the reader or listener. Note the variety of emotions represented here—the horror you felt on 9/11, your anger at the racial epithet, your delight as you sang with Mary Poppins, the excitement you’ll feel when you win the lottery (even a dollar!).  Continue reading The Shocking Truth about Charged Words

Key Words, Emphasize Them You Must

Yoda
Creative power, write with it you must.

I bet if I give you a sentence, you will immediately be able to identify its speaker. Ready?

“Dark the night is.”

Did you guess that 900-year-old pointy-eared creature, Yoda, from Star Wars? He never uttered those words in any of the movies, so what made you guess him?

Ah, his use of inversion. (Or maybe the huge photo above gave him away.)

Inversion is the reversal of normal word order in a sentence. Used to emphasize key points, it is one of the power techniques that adds intensity to writing.  Continue reading Key Words, Emphasize Them You Must

Deck the Hall with Action Verbs

In action...
In action…

With the Polar Express bearing down, there is someone who will look beautiful and calm (she finished her shopping in October) with a box of homemade, decorated cookies; presents in paper with lots of of ribbon and bows; handsome sons and pretty daughters all dressed up; and no money worries.

Then there is that woman who will trudge through Toys ’R’ Us sans makeup to find that last Frozen gift; burn her one and only batch of chocolate chip cookies; stab the air with the scissors, Psycho-style, as the gift bags run out before the pile of presents, threaten to take back the kids’ gifts when they peek in the closet, and beg the post office to lose the bills in January.

Why am I always that second woman?  Continue reading Deck the Hall with Action Verbs

“Where’s he at?”…and Other Sentence Clutter

Man with Binoculars
“I can’t see him. Where is he at?”
photo credit: Boston Public Library via photopin cc

Have you agreed to stop hoarding and clean up your writing? In my previous post, I told you what to get rid of (These are actually just a start!):

  1. redundancy
  2. wordiness
  3. pretension
  4. circumlocution
  5. modifiers
  6. empty openers and phrases
  7. clichés
  8. passive verbs
  9. vague nouns
  10. noun forms of verbs

I had you look for redundancies such as “woke up out of sleep.” The George Carlin piece suggested “Duh!”s like “honest truth.” My all-time favorite duh! “Where’s he at?”  Continue reading “Where’s he at?”…and Other Sentence Clutter

Call 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

A hoarder's apartment
A hoarder’s apartment
By Grap (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
Are you a hoarder? Maybe not in your home, but what about in your writing? Is it so cluttered with verbiage—wordiness, circumlocution, redundancy, modifiers, empty openers and phrases, pretension, clichés—that your readers stumble and rummage through it?

It’s time to purge. Even if you’re a creative writer.

If your writing is non-fiction or business, of course you want it to be clear and direct. But flowery embellishments and long, tangled descriptions don’t work now in creative writing, either. Maybe during the Victorian era that was the style, but today’s creative writing is clear and direct. All writers, then, need to use the “power” skill of writing concisely.  Continue reading Call 1-800-GOT-JUNK?