Category Archives: On Writing

On Writing: Shakespearian Insults

shakespeare-blog-cartoon
(The drawing is from http://2.bp.blogspot.com).

I recently started trying to organize (O.K. I actually mean “clean”) the room that I call my library (i.e. the spare bedroom where I have books on shelves and boxes of books stacked almost to the ceiling) and came across this list that my Shakespeare Professor shared with all of his classes. I had tucked the list into my Oxford UP Shakespeare text and had used it as a bookmark once upon a time. This teacher had a wonderful sense of humor and kept everyone laughing, even when studying the tragedies. (He also taught a class on John Milton’s Paradise Lost and found ways to make portions of that funny!)

Shakespeare Insult Kit
Combine one word from each of the three columns below, prefaced with “Thou”:
Column 1                                    Column 2                                         Column 3

artless                                          base-court                                       apple-john
bawdy                                          bat-fowling                                     baggage
beslubbering                               beef-witted                                     barnacle
bootless                                       beetle-headed                                bladder
churlish                                        boil-brained                                    boar-pig
cockered                                     clapper-clawed                               bugbear
clouted                                        clay-brained                                    bum-bailey
craven                                          common-kissing                            canker-blossom
currish                                          crook-pated                                   clack-dish
dankish                                        dismal-dreaming                            clotpole
dissembling                                 dizzy-eyed                                      coxcomb
droning                                        doghearted                                    codpiece
errant                                           dread-bolted                                 death-token
fawning                                       earth-vexing                                  dewberry
fobbing                                        elf-skinned                                    flap-dragon
froward                                       fat-kidneyed                                  flax-wench
frothy                                          fen-sucked                                     flirt-gill
gleeking                                      flap-mouthed                                foot-licker
goatish                                        fly-bitten                                       fustilarian
gorbellied                                    folly-fallen                                     giglet
impertinent                                fool-born                                        gudgeon
infectious                                   full-gorged                                      haggard
jarring                                         guts-griping                                    harpy
loggerheaded                            half-faced                                        hedge-pig
lumpish                                      hasty-witted                                   horn-beast
mammering                               hedge-born                                     hugger-mugger
mangled                                     hell-hated                                       joithead
mewling                                     idle-headed                                    lewdster
paunchy                                     ill-breeding                                     lout
pribbling                                    ill-nurtured                                     maggot-pie
puking                                       knotty-pated                                  malt-worm
puny                                          milk-livered                                    mammet
qualling                                     motley-minded                              measle
rank                                           onion-eyed                                     minnow
reeky                                        plume-plucked                               miscreant
roguish                                    pottle-deep                                     moldwarp
ruttish                                     pox-marked                                     mumble-news
saucy                                       reeling-ripe                                      nut-hook
spleeny                                   rough-hewn                                     pigeon-egg
spongy                                   rude-growing                                   pignut
surly                                       rump-fed                                          puttock
tottering                               shard-borne                                     pumpion
unmuzzled                           sheep-biting                                     ratsbane
vain                                      spur-galled                                        scut
venomed                             swag-bellied                                     skainsmate
villainous                             tardy-gaited                                     strumpet
warped                                tickle-brained                                   varlot
wayward                             toad-spotted                                    vassal
weedy                                 unchin-snouted                               whey-face
yeasty                                 weather-bitten                                wagtail

Upon finding this, I did some research online and located two web sites that also deal with Shakespearean insults. (Yes—this was another way to put off cleaning and organizing the room.) The first automatically generates the insults and the second lets you “click and choose” from a variety of phrases to generate the insult.

Shakespearean Insulter

http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html

Ye Olde Official Shakespearean Insult Kit

http://petelevin.com/shakespeare.htm

Some of these insults sound fairly tame. For example, I can imagine reading “errant, ill-nurtured miscreant” in a Regency romance novel. However, a “spleeny, earth-vexing scut” sounds quite a bit rougher. I many have to find a way to use that someday in one of my short stories.

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On Writing: Ideas Appear in the Strangest of Places

Monroe

Monroe

I decided to take the day off today just to explore and re-charge my energy. This is not something I do on a regular basis. (I generally work 7 days a week. Days off are rare!)

I took a day off just to explore last year in August and had an unusual adventure and discovered a pirate ship. (Being in the Midwestern United States, the fact that someone has a pirate ship in his/her backyard is pretty amazing.) You can read more about it here if you are interested:

http://chrispavesic.com/2013/08/20/on-writing-the-road-less-traveled/

This year I had a rather unexpected turn of events again. I did not run across any type of ship this time, but I did find a hauntingly beautiful statue in the middle of a field. I will share a picture of this at the end of my post.

I decided to visit the city of Monroe, Wisconsin. Monroe is known as the “Swiss Cheese Capital” of the United States, and many of the activities concern cheese making and cheese eating. This is also one of the towns that participated in the “Cows on Parade” charity event.

Cow On Parade

Cow On Parade

At this time, the town square also includes other animals.

Horse on Parade

However it does not include grotesque. To see this statue, I had to go outside the city limits.

Grotesque

Grotesque

On first sight this could be mistaken for a gargoyle, but the proper term is grotesque.

A gargoyle is an ornamental figure that conveys water away from the gutter of a building to prevent it from running down the wall. When an ornamental figure does not have a spout, it is referred to as a grotesque. Often demonic in appearance, grotesques add architectural interest and wield apotropaic magic (they are placed with the intent to ward off evil).

It is both eerie and beautiful and raises the question of “why?”

Why did someone place this statue where they did?

Since it is not near a building, it is not adding architectural interest.

So what type of evil could it be protecting against in the middle of that field?

This could be the start of an interesting story idea!

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On Writing: What I Listen to When Writing

Loreena McKennitt’s adaptation of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” has always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy listening to it when I want to get lost in the world of Camelot and Avalon.

As always, I hope that the music inspires you to write.

Enjoy!

Chris

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On Writing: Inspirations from John Green, Author of The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars author John Green appeared on Monday night’s episode of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report to talk about his book. What I found particularly interesting in the interview occurred when Green discussed his emotions when writing the novel. You can see a clip of the segment here:

Green acknowledges that he wept over the novel when writing in Starbucks. He had an emotional tie to the characters that developed because of his personal experience with Esther Earl, a cancer patient. The book is dedicated to her memory.

I have never written in a coffee shop; I write in my home office. I do become emotionally attached to most of the characters I create. (I haven’t wept when writing yet, but I also haven’t created a character based on someone I know who died of cancer.) I sometimes hate it when bad things happen to my characters in the story, which is ironic because I am the one putting them in those situations. Yet the story goes where it will.

I would be interesting in learning about how other authors deal with this issue. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

(Disclaimer: I have no association with The Colbert Report or John Green.)

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On Writing: What I Listen to When Writing

Madilyn Bailey covered Lana Del Rey’s song “Young and Beautiful.” I think the words in the song are evocative and the simple treatment Bailey gives this with just the piano playing and her singing adds to the haunting effect of the music.

As always—I hope the music inspires you to write.

Enjoy!

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On Writing: The Love Book APP and Poetic Inspirations

The Love Book

A friend of mine recently gave me The Love Book App. I have been under the weather and he thought it would cheer me up. Mission accomplished! There is nothing like a virus to sap your energy and creativity, and nothing like a collection of works by great authors to help restore your spirit.

The APP is an anthology of timeless poems, short stories, quotations, and letters collected by Allie Esiri that are all inspired by love. The poems are narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Watson, Tom Hiddleston, Gina Bellman, Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory.

The following is a video of Tom Hiddleston reading Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare. (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”).

From the APP you can tweet the works, post to Facebook, or email. You can record your own version and share it. You can write your own work. And, of course, you can listen, read, and be inspired.

(Disclaimer: I am not associated with Allie Esiri or The Love Book APP in any way.)

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On Writing: What Makes a Word Real?

As a writer, Anne Curzon’s TED Talk, “What Makes a Word Real,” was fascinating to watch. She discusses the people who work behind the scenes at dictionaries and how a word is determined to be “real” in our society. Think about how many words are added to the English language every day because of technology. For example, Curzon discusses the word “defriend” in her speech and my first impulse was to question the term: “Isn’t it unfriend?” Neither one is a word one would find in a dictionary–yet both are “real” in our society. (One is just a bit more popular.)

What words have you heard recently that might fit this definition of “real”?

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