Malapropisms: Writing the Wrong Word

malapropisms say what? selfie-413162_640“Texas has a lot of electrical votes.” –Yogi Berra

A malapropism (or acyrologia) is the use of an incorrect but similar-sounding word in place of the correct word. It was coined from the name of a character, Mrs. Malaprop, who constantly misused and abused her words in the comedy The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In turn, Mrs. Malaprop’s name ultimately descended from the French phrase mal à propos meaning badly placed or inappropriate.

There are two reasons writers (and others) may get their words mixed up. The first, of course, is the similarity of sound. In the quote above, Yogi Berra was actually referring to electoral votes, but electrical is pretty close. Close, but no cigar. Continue reading “Malapropisms: Writing the Wrong Word”

Are You Overusing “Magic” in Your Writing?

magic bears suspend reader disbeliefFantasy writers and readers have a reputation for being just slightly soft in the head. I mean, what adult believes in magic? But wait a moment. All forms of writing ask for a suspension of disbelief by the reader, and there are elements of “magic” in most genres. That’s the joy of reading. By creating an imaginary world for us, the writer pushes us towards a sense of wonder. But it is easy for an author to overuse the readers’ belief in the more wonderful story elements. Since they are…well…magical, authors may think they don’t have to follow the usual rules. But use of magic has rules of its own, because that is where the writer is in the most danger of pushing readers into disbelief. The following are a few principles of writing “magic” of all sorts that authors might wish to consider. Continue reading “Are You Overusing “Magic” in Your Writing?”

Could Researching My Book Get Me in Trouble?

author list murder researchI took a day trip with the freckle-faced girl recently to the United States. We live in Canada, a few miles from the border, so occasionally Costco’s ice cream or some other worthy endeavor calls to us. I’m in charge of the shopping cart duties and with some minor instruction I usually manage to fulfill my obligation. We have a Nexus pass that allows us to get into the fast lane when we cross. This makes the process easier, but, even with my youthful transgressions occurring many moons ago, and nary even a speeding ticket to my name in years, I still get a bit nervous when I reach that little window. I keep thinking there’s something that I’ve forgotten to mention, and the border guard will click his little mouse, and check his computer screen. His eyes will light up like a UFO saucer and I’ll have some explaining to do. Continue reading “Could Researching My Book Get Me in Trouble?”