Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Favorite Words for May and Flash Fiction

I’ve always been fascinated by words and language. I’m the kind of word nerd who gets a kick out of stumbling across unusual words. If I’m looking up something in the dictionary, it’s fun to discover other cool words. So I thought I’d start a new series called “My Favorite Words” where I share a few of my favorites with my readers.

The other day I was reading a magazine and I came across something rather disturbing. I was holding a paper copy of this magazine; it was an actual printed magazine, not an eBook or tablet. How old school and rather quaint in these modern times, but I prefer magazines, not the digital versions! I was reading about trends, what’s “in” and what’s “out.”

I was astonished to learn that actual words are becoming a bit outmoded these days. More and more people are actually speaking in the shorthand used online for things like tweeting and texting. For example, instead of typing out BRB (be right back) people just say in conversation...BRB!

I also heard that some schools might stop teaching kids cursive writing. It is no longer deemed necessary to have good penmanship or to be able to write your name in script. Since we are living in the digital age, all that’s really required is the ability to type and speak in shorthand.

But whatever happened to a love of language, of literature? You think Jane Austen told her sister Cassandra she’d BRB? Did Shakespeare knock out a few words on his digital tablet before logging into Facebook and Twitter? I believe the digital age has been detrimental for words, and there’s been a real cultural shift in how we communicate as people live more of their lives hanging out online, spending their days in front of electronic devices.

In the spirit of keeping a love of language alive, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite words today.

5 Favorite Words for May:

Solitudinarian - One that lives a secluded, solitary life.

Kerfuffle - A commotion or disorder, an imbroglio or brouhaha.

Autodidact - A self-taught person.

Exsanguinated - Drained of blood.

Transmogrify - To change into a different form or shape, especially one that’s bizarre.

I don’t write short stories; except for script writing I’m pretty much a nonfiction writer. But for fun I thought I’d write some short paragraphs that combined my favorite words in flash fiction. Here goes:

The Cabin in the Woods...

It had been two weeks since Jack escaped to the deserted cabin in the woods, and though his girlfriend Jenny accused him of becoming a solitudinarian, he had to confess he loved living alone, seeing no one, and immersing himself in his writing. What an epic kerfuffle they had, one of their worst fights ever, when he announced he was retreating to the cabin to get some space and work on his novel.

He grabbed another whiskey, wiped the sweat off his brow and pondered the blank page and blinking cursor before him. A hermit and an autodidact by nature, he stared at the daunting tower of books he had hoarded in an effort to teach himself conversational German and archaeology. Perhaps these pursuits would distract his mind from thoughts that plagued him in the dead of night, visions of horrible happenings in these woods that haunted his dream life and lingered like a bad taste in his waking mind.

Suddenly, he heard a hollow tapping sound...could it be Jenny? Could her Jeep Cherokee negotiate the rough terrain and would she even bother to come back after their war of words? But what was that awful, anguished howling? It made the hairs stand up on the back of his head. He had never felt so vulnerable and alone. Anxious for relief, he rushed to the front door and flung it open!

His face was exsanguinated; he trembled in awe at what stood before him.

It was not Jenny. No, what stood before him was something infinitely more horrible. The legend was true! He was face to face with the creature that had transmogrified horribly into something half monster, half human. The legendary ogre of these back woods, chased by a brave few, feared by many, but celebrated in literature.

His heart raced with terror and excitement; he didn’t know if he’d make it out of the woods alive, but if he survived to write the tale, what an incredible story!


That was 330 words for my short story, so I’m not sure if it qualifies as flash fiction, but it does have a 5 word title, plus an ellipsis for added drama! (Cue some scary music...) If you have some favorite words, please share them with me by posting a comment. I’d love to hear them!


Blogger said...

Your first few sentences made me laugh because I'm exactly the same way. It takes me much longer than it should to look up a word in the dictionary because there are so many other new and fascinating words to distract my attention. I keep all my favorites in file on my computer called "interesting words" and refer back to whenever I want to add a little fun to something I'm writing.

Allison said...

That's a fantastic idea! Keeping all of your favorite words in a computer file you can refer to when writing-I should try that! :)