Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fun Words

There are certain words that click with me. It could be in the pronunciation, or maybe it has to do with how I use them. At any rate, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Cerulean – This is one of those words that just sounds great. Cerulean. One of the best color descriptions out there. Its four syllables come out so smooth, it’s like I’m speaking a foreign phrase. I think I’ve used it once or twice in writing because it has to fit the rest of the sentence, but I just like seeing the word.

Acerbic – It’s difficult for me to even say the word in a normal voice. I want to sneer or narrow my eyes as I spit the word out. I know the word can be used for taste alone, but I tend to associate it more with someone’s words, the kind that burn through you like acid.

Huzzah – This is part of my regular vocabulary. I use it when things go well, usually with my fist partially raised (I suppose if I just slew an orc I might raise my entire arm, but that gesture seems to overemphasize the small victories in my life).

I’ll try to think of more words that come to mind in striking ways and present them in future posts. Perhaps my interest in words is a bit odd, but I like to use just the right word to convey an idea. It seems logical that with our plethora (I like this one, too) of words in the English language, I would enjoy some better than others. I wonder if other people are intrigued by certain words. Or is this just another indication of my bizarre nature as a person?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sleep is Overrated

Sleep is overrated, or so I tell myself when my daughter is awake through the night because she’s teething, has a diaper rash or is in the middle of a growth spurt. Most nights, my wife graciously lets me sleep, but on the days when she needs assistance, I jump in to help meet our little one’s needs and send her back to sleep.

Elora doesn’t like waking up either, it seems. She cries because something isn’t right in her world, and when that’s addressed, she starts to doze off. We can communicate in slight ways, but some nights we’re really bumbling about until we discover the true issue.

Parenting is tough work, especially on low sleep, but it’s rewarding in its own way. In the future, I’ll be glad that I held my daughter when I could. It’s also a good feeling to know that someone is completely depending on you for survival and that they trust you to take care of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Writing Exercises

My writing group recently disbanded due to a lack of attendance, but I thought I’d share some of the writing exercises we would use in hopes that they will benefit other groups or individuals looking to get their thoughts flowing. I’m pretty sure I swiped these ideas from other people, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find them elsewhere on the Internet.

The intent for each of these exercises is to let people write for 3-5 minutes, just long enough to put 2-3 paragraphs together, but not long enough to think for an extended period of time. It’s good rough-draft training for those of us who like to think through too many details early on. Each person should read their work aloud at the end of the time.

Exercise 1: Let someone think of a random sentence. Each person must begin a short story with this sentence. I tend to runaway with this exercise and never end up at a good stopping point. Maybe that’s why I prefer the next exercise.

Exercise 2: Let someone think of a random sentence. Each person must end a short story with the sentence. I really like this one because you can be clever in getting to the end, to the point of drawing laughs. It’s like being given a punch-line.

Exercise 3: Divide the group into teams of 4-5 people. Each person in the team should start a story. When time is up, everyone pushes their papers to the left (keeping them within the same team). Give everyone a minute to read what has already been written. Then, each person should continue the story they were given. Continue rotating the stories until they reach the original authors, and then read the stories aloud in their entirety. This could be a good way to get people mad at you for ruining their work, I suppose, but I haven’t had that experience. I especially like it when an author tries to set up the next person, but the newest author ignores the suggestion and takes the story someplace the previous author never wanted it to go.

There are a plethora of other exercises out there, but these were some of the ones we liked to do on a regular basis. You can run through one or two fairly quickly, and sometimes you may come away with a new story idea.

This article is part of the Top Five Writing Improvement Articles:
1. Writing To Your Strengths Or Weaknesses – Should you write to your strengths or weaknesses? The answer varies depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
2. Writing Tools – As writers, we need to consider which tools will help us the most with our craft and have them at the ready.
3. The Callous Editor – To edit our own works well, we must divorce emotions from the process and make hard choices.
4. Writing Exercises – When thoughts seem locked up tight, try some exercises to get the sludge moving again.
5. The Jab – We need good openings to our stories, and this article shares some advice and an example from my own writing.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Back From Vacation

We returned from our vacation to Cincinnati earlier this week. One of the events we took part in was the Ohio Renaissance Festival. Once again, Ron (my father-in-law) and I donned our mail coats and assorted armor to become knights. Bess and her mother dressed as middle-class ladies of the medieval era, and our daughter wore a princess outfit (complete with pointed cap).

Normally, Ron and I draw attention wherever we go in our outfits, and we love it. This time, however, my daughter stole the show. Cameras came out from everywhere to film the little princess. How cute was she? Check out this picture.

My wife also took this quick video towards the end of the day. I’d like to point out that it was about 90 degrees, and Ron and I had been wearing our armor for several hours. Ron’s wife was pushing the princess’s cart most of the day, so he was giving her a break. As for me, you can see that I’m just fighting to stay alive.

We came back to the Ren Faire on Monday dressed as twenty-first century civilians. It was even warmer that day, so I was glad for the break, but it did feel a bit odd. No one asked for our pictures. It was like we were celebrities in disguise. Our next outing is in October, and Ron and I are going without the princess on the first day so that we can get our fill of attention before we bring her back into the spotlight.