Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rediscover the verb

Who is your boss? When you are writing, you are.

You are your own boss. I am my own.

Why, then are we so determined to hang on to all the rules we have been accumulating over the years? Other people's rules.

People say before you can break a rule, you must learn it first. There are a number of grammatical rules I am sure I don't know, so when I break them, I am afraid I can't consider myself a rule-breaker (a trail blazer, perhaps? *feeling optimistic*).

For all you rebels out there, I would like you to think about something simple. A verb (let's skip the compound verbs for now). If someone were to list off a number of words, we would be able to pick out the verbs pretty quickly.

I would like to share one of my favorite writing exercises with you, taken as an excerpt from one of my favorite books on writing, Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing

"Use any of the following verbs in any way you wish:

racket snug green spoon boggle snake

They're not all verbs, you say?

Jeremy is racketing across the lawn as we speak!

Can you hear earthworms snugging out of the ground as the sun greens the trees?

Verbs are sometimes a matter of opinion."

What's your opinion? Are you willing to let your employees branch out with their creativity, or are they going to be forced to stick to all the rules set in place long before they joined the company?

After reading this exercise, my boss let me use pink as a verb - and took me out for sushi as a token of her appreciation.

Exercise source: Wood, Monica. 2002. The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. Writers Digest Books. Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Helena said...

Stephanie, you boggle my mind with your creativity! But then I remember that you have probably snaked your way through the dense swamp of writing challenges to get beyond mundane mediocrity.

And yes, when I delve back into the dating practices of earlier generations for my current short story, young couples of the day were known to spoon. Very romantic!

Excellent reminder of the importance of going to the very fringes of expressive language in our writing.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Stephanie, I'm not that grammatical, but when I looked at that list, I thought, but that's not a verb... and neither is that... what? Then I read the examples and they made sense.

Thank you. I love your creativity.

I also tend to break the rules but so far, I've been more of a fractional sectence rule breaker. Oh, the possibilities you've opened for me... :)

Anita Mae.

Karyn Good said...

Verbs are sometimes a matter of opinion.

I love that line.

Thanks for the reminder to stretch the imagination and experiment with language.

connie said...

Hi Stephanie

What rules?

And what's to stop me from doing my on thing? Guilt? Fear of disturbing the rest of my long deceased English teacher? Other people?

BUT. Rebels exist - at least one other anyway

I love being given encouragement to put my grammar books way to the back of the bookshelf.

Thank you for blogging for freedom.
And - short is good.

connie said...

Smile - it's a matter of style

Jana Richards said...

Stephanie, you rebel! Why not make up a new verb? If it says what you want to convey better than a conventional verb, I say go for it!

Keep on being creative.

Stephanie said...

Hey Guys,
Thanks for the awesome comments. You've made me smile. Helena - don't think I didn't notice your new verb. Great work! I would definitely recommend Monica Wood's book if you liked this exercise.