One-Liner Wednesday — Curiosity and Imagination

39261294-2CB6-40A7-B8BA-1A903454595F“That adage about ‘write what you know’ is basically the opposite of the way I function. I write about what I’m curious to find out.”

Jennifer Egan, American novelist

Okay, yes, this one-liner is actually a two-liner. But it’s no less an interesting message. A lot of truly great writers have advised wannabe writers to write about what they know. Makes sense, right?

But as Jennifer Egan suggests, if you write about something you’re curious to know, you’ll research it and will, therefore, end up writing about what you know. That, too, makes sense.

Although, I might modify Jennifer’s quote slightly. Because if I had to personally know about everything I wanted to write about, I wouldn’t have that much to write about. So instead, I’d say, “Write about what you’re curious to find out…or whatever your imagination conjures up.”


Written for today’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt from Linda G. Hill. Image credit: Lysons_editions (Pixabay.com).

One-Liner Wednesday — Searching for a Plot

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“My life has a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.”

Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant
British author and syndicated cartoonist

As a wannabe novelist, I can relate to this quotation. In my handful of attempts at writing the “Great American Novel,” I seem to be able to conjure up a whole cast of interesting, unique, provocative, and compelling characters. But then I get all turned around and mostly lost trying to figure out what to do with them. I get bogged down while attempting to develop the plot arc and end up abandoning my characters without reaching a destination.

Well, they say one’s journey is more important than one’s destination. So I’m going to go with that as my excuse for not being able to give my cast a decent plot in which to strut their stuff.


Written for this week’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt from Linda G. Hill.

You’re Saying It Wrong

Nobody likes a smart ass, so you’re probably going to hate me after you read this post. That said, here are a bunch of words and phrases that are frequently used incorrectly. How many are you guilty of?

Nip it in the butt.” The expression should be nip it in the bud, which means to put an end to something before it develops into something larger. It alludes to destroying a flower bud before it blooms. But hey, if you’re into nipping butts, well, that sounds kind of kinky to me, but who am I to judge?

I could care less.” Okay so maybe you care more than you think you do, but the expression is I couldn’t care less.

One in the same.” The same person or thing is one and the same. Zorro and Don Diego, Clark Kent and Superman, Bruce Wayne and Batman are all examples of one and the same, not one in the same.

You’ve got another thing coming.” Now this is one even I have been saying wrong. It should be you’ve got another think coming, because its meaning is that you have to rethink your position, as in “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.”

Each one worse than the next.” Unless you can predict the future, how do you know if the next one is going to worse than the last one? That’s why the correct expression is each one worse than the last.

On accident.” Don’t you mean by accident?

Statue of limitations.” It’s the Statue of Liberty. It’s the statute of limitations.

For all intensive purposes.” Something can be very intensive, which means it requires or has a high concentration of a specified quality or element, as in intensive care. But the phrase is actually for all intents and purposes, which basically means, “amounts to” or “pretty much the same thing.”

He did good.” Good, in this case is an adjective that should describe a noun, so “He did a good job” would be correct. But when describing not how he did something but what he did, he did well is the right way to go.

Extract revenge.” It’s easy to see why this can be confused with the correct phrase, which is exact revenge. Extract means to draw or pull out, often with great force or effort. You extract a wisdom tooth. You use tweezers to extract a splinter. But in this context, to exact revenge is a planned, methodical act that is often severe.

Old timer’s disease.” I got a kick out of this one the first time I saw it because I’d never heard it used as a substitute for Alzheimer’s disease. I suppose one could argue that Alzheimer’s is typically something that happens mostly to old timers.

I’m giving you some leadway.” I’d love to have you give me some leadway. What the fuck is “leadway”? Actually, I’d rather you be giving me some leeway. Leeway is extra time, space, materials, or the like, within which to operate. It’s a degree of freedom of action or thought. So please, by all means, give me some leeway.

A whole nother.” As with “leadway,” “nother” is not a word. Neither is “nuther.” I would thank you for offering me a whole nother if I only knew what a nother is. Why not just give me “another” or “a whole other”?

Irregardless.” Yet another non-word. The word regardless means “without regard.” The prefix “ir” is a negative. By adding “ir” to the front of “regardless,” you’ve essentially created a double negative meaning “without without regard.” The correct word is simply regardless. Part of the not-so-uncommon use of the non-word irregardless may be due to the word “irrespective,” a perfectly good word that means without taking into account, or essentially, regardless of something. It can be confusing, but regardless, “irregardless” is not a word.

Conversating.” Sorry, but that is not a word either. When you’re engaged in a conversation, you’re conversing.

Expresso.” Okay, so you walk into a Starbucks and ask for a double expresso. How dumb do you feel when that pimply-faced barista smiles at you and says, “Oh, you want a double espresso, right?”

Momento.” If you are visiting Mexico and would like a local to please give you a minute while visiting Mexico, you might say, “Un momento, por favor.” But if what you want is something to remind you of your trip to Mexico, what you’re after is a memento.

Scotch free.” Okay, there’s Scotch tape and Scotch plaid, but there’s no ”Scotch free” unless, perhaps, someone gives you a free bottle of Scotch whiskey. The expression is scot-free, which means to go unpunished; to be acquitted of a crime. Scot is an old word meaning “tax” or “tax burden.”

I made a complete 360 degree change I my life.” That means you’re going around in circles and you’re back where you started. What you probably meant to say is that you’ve made a complete 180 degree change, meaning you’re now going in an entirely different direction…the opposite direction. Or maybe you’re going in a whole nother direction.

Curl up in the feeble position.” Sure, sometimes when you’re feeling low or upset, you may also feel pretty feeble. But the position you’re curling up into is the fetal position.

Phase.” This could be the correct word, depending upon context. You may be going through a “phase,” which is a temporary stage in your life that will pass. Most boys go through a masturbation phase in adolescence and early adult hood. For some men, though, that phase never passes. A faze, however, is to cause to be disturbed or disconcerted; daunt: The worst insults cannot faze him.

Hone in.” A hone is a fine-grained whetstone for giving a keen edge to a cutting tool. You usually hone something, as in to sharpen or make more effective. When you home in on something, you are getting within range, zeroing in. It was originally used in early aeronautics when pilots were guided to their destinations and back to their home bases by radio beacons. In the jargon of the time, they were said to “home in on” the beacons. Actually, though, “hone in” has become more commonplace these days than “home in.” Hone in is what linguists call an “eggcorn”: a change in word form due to error or misunderstanding.

I have to follow the tenants of my religion.” What you mean is that you have to follow the tenets (or principles or doctrines) of your religion. If you follow your tenants, or people who rent property, you might be thought of as a stalker.

Put the petal to the medal.” This is a double whammy. Unless you’re handing out medals with flower petals on them, what you’re really wanting to say is “Put the pedal to the metal,” which means to press a car’s accelerator to the floor.

I’m feeling nauseous.” No, you’re not. If you feel like you’re about to throw-up, you’re feeling nauseated. And if you make me feel like puking, then what you are is nauseous.

If you have any other examples of misused words or phrases, please feel free to add them in your comments.

Who’s Counting?

1B4C7C56-6B0F-49A1-A5E3-9FDC2F3723F8I respond to a lot of flash fiction prompts that impose word count limitations. So when I heard about a new word processing/text editing app available for free at the App Store on my iPhone, I downloaded it. The app’s name is “Eddie.”

According to Eddie, “You will always know how many words and characters you have written with Eddie’s Live Counter, which updates as you type.”

I figured I could use Eddie to help me track my word count for prompts where word count matters. I’d use Eddie on my iPhone to compose the post and then cut and paste it into the WordPress app.

I decided to try Eddie out with a 100-word prompt. Using Eddie to compose my post, I diligently edited my draft to get it to be precisely 100 words. At least that was what Eddie told me the word count was. Imagine my surprise when, after copying my Eddie-certified 100-word block of text into the WordPress text editor, it showed 123 words.

What? My reputation as a flash fiction blogger would be destroyed if I were to be caught trying to pass off a 123-word story for a 100-word challenge. I ended up practically rewriting the whole damn post to get it down to 100 words. According to WordPress, anyway.

So I decided to run a test using the following paragraph.

I wrote this paragraph as a test. I participate in a lot of flash fiction prompts that impose word limits. Some require a post to be 100 or fewer words. Others permit up to 175 or 200. Some are micro fiction prompts that allow even fewer words. And one prompt I participate in allows only up to 280 total characters, like Twitter.

The WordPress editor pegged the above paragraph as having 57 words. Microsoft Word tallied 62 words. Same with Pages, an Apple writing app I have on my iPhone — 62 words. But according Eddie, that paragraph had only 45 words!

So what is it really? 45 words? 62 words? 57 words? When I’m participating in a word-limited prompt, should I be conservative and go by the highest count from Microsoft and Apple, the WordPress editor count, or the Eddie count, which shows the lowest word count?

I suppose, since my blog is on WordPress, I should use that app’s word count. Yes?

For what it’s worth, WordPress says this post has 410 words. According to Apple’s Pages app, it has 435 words. Microsoft Word comes in at 429 words. And Eddie tells me this post has 230 words.

But who’s counting?

I Hate When That Happens

4A889342-0B4B-4113-AD65-A816F4FD0BE8I wrote a post earlier in response to today’s one-word prompt, “underdog.” When I first started the post, I was going to use the idiom, “no dog in the race,” but when I looked at it on my draft after typing the words, it didn’t look right. So I Googled it.

Sure enough, the actual expression is “no dog in the fight.” I’m not a fan of dog fighting, so I didn’t want to use that. I suppose I could have used “no dog in the hunt,” which is related to fox hunting, but I’m not a fan of that “sport” either.

So I finally settled on “no horse in the race.” But when I changed the text from “no dog in the race” to “no horse in the race,” I actually typed “no race in the race.”

One would think that, after proofreading the draft multiple times before hitting “Publish,” I would have caught that error and corrected it. But while my eyes read “no race in the race,” my brain saw what it thought I typed, which was “no horse in the race.”

So there was my error for the whole world to see. Well, that infinitesimally small fraction of the whole world that reads my blog, anyway. And I didn’t yet realize it until my blogging buddy, Jim Adams over at A Unique Title For Me, read my post and commented, “Change the first race to horse.” Thanks Jim. I made that change and I do appreciate you pointing it out.

But I still don’t feel better about having made that error in the first place and then not catching it myself while proofreading. I really need to do a better job of proofreading my posts before pushing them out.

And yes, I’m a bit OCD about this. What can I say, except that I will try to do better.