Introductions: My Wonderful Husband, My Beautiful Wife

Pay attention to how people introduce someone. I like to listen to the introductions on game shows, to hear how couples introduce their partners. Often it is some version of “My wonderful husband” and “My beautiful wife”.

Wonderful is generic, not actually saying what is wonderful about him. But, it shows an overall value of him.

Beautiful is only about how she looks. It says she is valued for her beauty. When a man introduces his wife as beautiful I wonder if either of them knows how shallow that is. Also, it’s not even a credit to her, but more a boast and credit to himself for getting a beautiful woman.

What happens to her value as she ages and isn’t so fresh and pretty? What happens if she gets into an accident and her features change? What happens as she has children and her body changes? At “that time of the month” she may not maintain her beauty with full cosmetics and she might even dress down! Women’s bodies go through more ups and downs physically so measuring her value based on how she looks is not an easy thing to live with.

How do you introduce the people in your life?

Do you avoid adjectives in introduces and just give titles and names? This makes an impersonal introduction. Not a bad thing but it doesn’t give you the chance to show someone else how you value them, or boast about them to others. A sincere introduction is a nice thing. It is a real compliment.

When actors introduce each other on TV shows, like award shows, they pretty much say the same, generic thing. “The great, the wonderful, the beautiful, the amazing…” Even with the adjective those introductions are impersonal because they lack sincerity. Part of a good introduction is about sales, telling others something good about the person being introduced. However, the lack of sincerity makes the introduction impersonal, fluff.

Write an introduction for a few of the people you know.

Stick to one word, but take time to find the right word. Will you use it next time you introduce them? It can take a little bravery or boldness to show how you feel about someone else, when you are sincere and honest. However, you could brighten up their day with a real compliment spoken for others to hear.

Cold Reading – Writing Backwards

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, mediums and illusionists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.[1] Without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by analyzing the person’s body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. Cold readers commonly employ high probability guesses about the subject, quickly picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, and then emphasizing and reinforcing any chance connections the subjects acknowledge while quickly moving on from missed guesses.

via Cold reading – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Choose a character you have already written (or use the idea to help you create a new character) and create a cold reading based on the facts you have given the reader about that character.

Linguistics and Semantics

From SuiteU. Saved before it disappears. More pages of links were included back to the course writer’s topic on Suite101 but all of those links were 404 so I have not tried to include them.

Linguistics & Semantics
By Antonella Sartor


Have you never asked yourself what is the real meaning of ‘language’? (linguistics) Why the words change? (the semantic change) Why one word is pronounced in this way? (phonetic/phonology) What differentiate the languages of world, for example, English from Italian or English from French etc? (phonological rules) Which rules are necessary for word formation or sentence formation? (morphology and syntax) What rules govern people’s behaviour? (pragmatics and speech acts) How can we analyse a poem, a critical essay, a piece of narrative passage?(textual analysis) Which rhetorical figures are the most important? (metaphor, metonymy, connotation, denotation, simile etc)

Read moreLinguistics and Semantics

51 Short and Simple Writing Prompts

  1. Describe the smell of popcorn.The allure and memories associated with it.
  2. Write a short history for a penny found in the shopping mall parking lot.
  3. You name your pet goldfish, Ichabod. What’s the story behind that?
  4. Dragons are real. Three of them just appeared in your living room looking for…
  5. Explore the world of cracked pavement. What stories are there in the wrinkles of tar we drive over?
  6. Watch for little things lost along the road next time you’re walking somewhere. How did they get there?
  7. Write a cheerleading cheer for a high school sports team. (Use a real school or make one up).
  8. You pick up a dime from the sidewalk. How does that change your day?
  9. Write a note you would post around the neighbourhood for a missing pet snake.
  10. Explain why garlic really isn’t a way to keep the vampires away.
  11. Write a grocery list from a dog’s point of view.
  12. If you had a robot housekeeper what would you have them do first?
  13. How would you write an ad to sell laundry soap?
  14. Out of all the non-eventful, ordinary days, which would you pick as your favourite and why?
  15. Use your real initials and choose a new name for yourself.
  16. Your parking meter has run out, what story do you think up to avoid getting a ticket?
  17. Write a memorial service speech for a bug you squished.
  18. You decide to start a community newsletter. What do you call it?
  19. They say there are rocks in your head, what kind are they?
  20. What’s the idol outfit for a Barbie doll?
  21. What was the last small thing you did for the environment/ green living?
  22. Think of all the different ways a book can end up soaked in water?
  23. Write about something really unusual spilled on your kitchen floor.
  24. You win a free day to travel in a horse and carriage, what do you do with it?
  25. A space alien visits you and asks for breakfast, what do you give them?
  26. You get the worst service ever in a restaurant. What do you do about it?
  27. You wake up, outside wearing a shower curtain and mismatched slippers. What happened?
  28. Invent a new flavour of tea, something just barely drinkable.
  29. You dream and are able to speak to insects. What do you talk about with them?
  30. How do you get their permission to throw mud pies at people to win a game show?
  31. Talk about chicken to a classroom of school kids.
  32. It’s a case of mistaken identity but how do you handle someone insisting you’re someone else?
  33. What’s the weirdest thing you would eat on toast?
  34. Think of a new way to reuse (repurpose) CDs/ DVDs instead of throwing them out.
  35. Without looking in your closet, what are three items you could do without to declutter?
  36. On a cooking show you have to create a designer sandwich. What do you make?
  37. Come up with a creative use for a long chain of paperclips linked together.
  38. Write a letter to a bird.
  39. In one word, sum up the feeling of walking in the rain.
  40. Write a speech for a puppet.
  41. Hold an argument with an inanimate object.
  42. You forget to put on your pants… but it’s not the nightmare you expected.
  43. Holding 500 helium balloon you discover you actually can rise into the air. What happens next?
  44. Write a review for a book you didn’t like. Find something uplifting for the author’s feedback.
  45. What’s the worst typo you can imagine?
  46. Write a “Day One” journal about living under the sea.
  47. Create a riddle then see if anyone can figure out the answer.
  48. Create a great female character for a video game. A real player, not a bystander with big boobs.
  49. Write the life of a pair of bedroom slippers.
  50. Think of a really creative way to gift wrap something, but stick to natural/ green living ways (no paper or plastic).
  51. What is your favourite colour and why is it your favourite?


Does a Personal Assistant Sound Like a Glamorous Career?

What does a Personal Assistant do? I imagine they are a second-hand to whoever hires them. The job could be anything from picking up dry cleaning, making coffee to writing a speech and beyond. It seems like a never-ending job of running errands and performing personal services like walking the dog, grocery shopping and booking appointments.

There are times when I’d like a Personal Assistant but it’s just not in the budget. Also, how would I explain everything I need done, exactly as I want it to be done? By the time I sorted out the details with someone else I could have done at least most of it myself. So, not practical for me in any case. But, what a neat career. I bet the pay is more than a department store cashier makes, with more time for coffee breaks. It may be they stand in line and have a lot of customer service to do, but they can do it with a coffee in hand.

Would you want to try the job of Personal Assistant for a day? Who would you choose to assist, assuming you get to choose of course? Likely it would be someone famous, after all those are busy/ wealthy people we know to choose from. But, a Personal Assistant could work for anyone overwhelmed with things to do willing/ able to hire someone to help them.

You would have to be bondable, very trustworthy and competent under pressure too.

Personal Assistant

Dream Careers: Personal Assistant

As a personal assistant you have to be a good communicator, a “get things done” kind of person, and cool under pressure. Ask yourself how you handle challenges and crises in your own life. Do you fly off the handle, or do you normally take a step back and think before you react?

The best personal assistants have an ability to move comfortably in the world of wealth and fame. Your appearance, etiquette skills and even your fashion sense may factor in here. You should be persuasive, a good negotiator, and your listening skills should be above average. You should also be extremely organized, a skilled problem-solver, and understand instinctively what types of information need to be kept in confidence.

Plain Conversation

What do you think about fiction written in the dialect of the character? Such as dialogue typed with a Scots brogue. For me it interrupts the flow of the conversation. Also, it seems a bit silly when every character is speaking in some kind of accent. Listen to your own voice as you have a casual conversation, you won’t enunciate each and every word. I just heard myself say “innernet” instead of Internet. So, when a conversation is written in dialect why stop at just one character? Doesn’t it seem a bit silly? What do you think? Consider the last book you read where a dialect was typed phonetically in the conversation. Did you stop to take note or did it flow? Did it cause you to wonder about the other characters, their way of speech? Or, do you assume everyone speaks perfect, proper English no matter where they come from or where they are?

Crash Blossoms

NY Times: Crash Blossoms

In news writer’s quest for concision, newspaper headlines can lead to some amusing ambiguities.

Funny news headlines which take on a new meaning when written without punctuation. – named Crash Blossoms via Language Log.

Submit any Crash Blossoms you find.

From Wikipedia: Syntactic ambiguity is a property of sentences which may be reasonably interpreted in more than one way, or reasonably interpreted to mean more than one thing. Ambiguity may or may not involve one word having two parts of speech or homonyms.
Syntactic ambiguity arises not from the range of meanings of single words, but from the relationship between the words and clauses of a sentence, and the sentence structure implied thereby. When a reader can reasonably interpret the same sentence as having more than one possible structure, the text is equivocal and meets the definition of syntactic ambiguity.

Proofread… proofread… proofread!

Prepare for Words Matter Week

Words Matter Week – March 6 – 12th.

Try the Blog Challenge Questions. Answer each in your blog on the day they begin.

  • Monday, March 7 – Is there a word that has changed, or could change your life? What is it, and what difference would it make?
  • Tuesday, March 8 – Words can change history. What speech or document do you believe to be most important. Why?
  • Wednesday, March 9 – What is your favorite quote about words. Why?
  • Thursday, March 10 – Words can be mangled, misused, or misunderstood. What is your funniest example of mangling, misuse, or misunderstanding?
  • Friday, March 11 – Words, like moths, are captured by writers who pin them to the page in various forms. What writer’s work most deftly captivates you? Why?

Speech Crafting

A speech is to be heard rather than read. In writing a speech you need to keep this in mind. Write using vivid, concrete words to create a clear, vibrant picture for everyone listening. It must also use sentence structure designed for listening, don’t let your words sink into a monotone pattern which your audience will fall asleep to. This is why a speech must be read aloud in order to truly be proofread. Read it out loud to yourself, if possible record yourself and play it back.

Keep the speech sounding like a real person. It’s not like writing a technical guide,  a real person is going to be speaking to other real people. Use words and language which are understood, in common use. Consider also, any words which can be confused with other words, especially words which sound very alike.

Give your main point in the beginning of the speech and state it again, in different words at the end. These are the times when people are listening at their best.

While giving your speech:

  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Take your time, don’t rush your words.
  • Use your hands, a little body language gives emphasis to your points and keeps the audience engaged.
  • Look at your audience as you speak to them. Don’t look down at the floor or up at something on the wall, ignoring the very people you want to be listening to you.
  • Mind your posture. Keep your feet on the floor, don’t slouch or teeter.
  • Show interest and enthusiasm from the start to the finish of your talk.
  • Smile once in awhile. Even at a funeral it is acceptable to smile in greeting.

Slipping a Little Bit of Big Words In

Some people hide behind big words and some people are afraid of them. I can understand both.

If you have ever read something like a scientific journal, a government publication about taxes, a university paper, or a political speech, you will have seen something cluttered with extra words and littered with big words. People use big words to sound important, educated and sometimes to confuse their readers so no one will know what they really did say. Often people just give in and agree cause they want to be nice (or don’t want to seem stupid/ ignorant)  but don’t really want to figure out the big words.

Being suckered by big words in this way does make people have a fear of them, if not a respect for them as a danger, something to beware of. So in this way big words do become intimidating. It’s a shame, cause they are just words. But words can be used in all sorts of ways, not all of them friendly. The pen is mightier than the sword. I think this really came into practice during the times when most people were illiterate. Language really was used against them.

Where do you stand on using big words? I don’t think it’s is a bad thing to use them. But, it’s all in how they are used. Do you use them to dominate, intimidate or trick your reader? Or do you just enjoy the language and desire to see it used?