Wednesday Writing Word: Metonym

Metonym

/ˈmɛtənɪm/  |  MET-uh-nim

 

Metonymy is the metaphorical referral to something by the name of something closely related to it.  Typically used for poetic symbolism, it’s more often seen in established examples than it is in unique cases.  For my fellow Game of Thrones fans, “The Iron Throne” is an often-used metonym for the rulership of Westeros.

 

Other examples:

  • The slog can drive a writer to the bottle.  [Referring to drinking alcoholic beverages]
  • Lo slog, das slogel slog – in any tongue the slog is still the slog.  [Referring to a language]

 

Metonymy.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.
 


 

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Wednesday Writing Word: Chiasmus

Chiasmus

/kaɪˈæzməs/  |  kye-AZ-muss

 

This is a fun one. Chiasmus occurs when parallel phrases/clauses are syntactically or semantically inverted.  It can be as simple as reversing parts of speech (such as the order of a verb and its adverb), or it can set up statements with poetic symmetry.  Probably better explained by showing than telling.

 

Examples:

  • I hate that the slog exists, and what it does I despise.
  • I wish that the slog would suddenly disappear and die horribly.
  • From a muse you get inspiration; you only get inhibition from the slog.
  • The slog is stupid like a rock, but like a boulder it can crush you.

 

Chiasmus.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.
 


 

(Want to win a free signed copy of The Amber Ring?  Check the link for details.  No entrants yet, so the odds are sitting at 100%!)

 

Wednesday Writing Word: Metanoia

Metanoia

ˌmɛtəˈnɔɪə  |  met-uh-NOY-uh

 

Metanoia, as a rhetoric device, is following up a statement with another of similar sentiment but contrasting severity.  When strengthening the original idea, it can be used as a clarifier or an escalating gradient; when softening it, it can create a mild recanting or a dramatic understatement.

 

Examples:

  • I fear that the slog is going to hinder me – that it’s going to smoother my brain, dull my senses, and rip the joy out of everything I do.
  • The slog is the absolute worst.  It’s just…really not my favorite thing, you know?

 

Metanoia.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.

Wednesday Writing Word: Epanalepsis

Epanalepsis

/ˌɛpənəˈlɛpsɪs/  |  EP-ah-nuh-LEP-sis

 

Epanalepsis is the repetition of a sentence’s (or occasionally clause’s) first word or phrase at its end.  Used for a particular sort of poetic emphasis, it can sound pretty awkward if not done carefully.

 

Examples:

  • Wretched is the slog, for its intentions are wretched.
  • You must be wary of the slog‘s embrace; it is cruel yet inviting, and of its allure you must be wary.

 

Epanalepsis.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.

Wednesday Writing Word: Polyseme

Polyseme

/ˈpɒliˌsim/  |  PAUL-ee-seem

 

Polysemy is the semantic relation among identical words of affiliated or derived meaning.   A polyseme can be as simple as a word with multiple similar contexts (mattress pad / paw pad / mouse pad), but they are more interesting and useful when they cross part-of-speech borders.  If we say “He will bat the bat with a bat,” bat (swat) and bat (baseball) are polysemes, whereas they are merely homonyms with bat (animal).

 

Other examples:

 

Polysemy.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.

Wednesday Writing Word: Anaphora

Anaphora

/əˈnæfərə/  |  uh-NAFF-or-uh

 

Anaphora means…two separate things.  Because why not coin long, obscure words for extremely specific purposes only to use them again for something completely different?  O.K., O.K., the etymology (Greek, ~”bringing back”) does lend itself toward both definitions, but still.

The first refers to using a word to stand in for something that came before it.  Typically, this just means your average pronoun-antecedent reference, but it can also apply to certain auxiliary verbs.

 

Examples:

  • I hate the slog because it is the worst.
  • I want to annihilate the slog; so does Billy.

 

The second (and more fun) anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple sequential sentences or clauses.  Used as emphatic redundancy.

 

Examples:

  • We are here to make a statement.  We are here to take a stand.  We are here to face the slog.
  • I don’t like the slog, I don’t like that it exists, and I don’t like that it doesn’t not exist.

 

(…technically, there’s also a third definition, but it isn’t related to linguistics, so it can just…not…be here)

 

Anaphora.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.

Wednesday Writing Word: Antimetabole

English has a lot of words.  It has words for things you may not necessarily think there would be words for – particularly when it comes to language itself.

But words are fun, right?  Of course they are!  So, I thought I’d do a series on obscure linguistic and rhetoric terms.  If one or more of them are new to you, then the next time you use a particular device, you’ll…realize that…it’s a thing?

Anyway, let’s get started.

Antimetabole

/ˌæntɨməˈtæbəli/  |  AN-tih-meh-TAB-o-lee

 

Antimetabole is the reversal of a phrase when recast in a subsequent clause.  Sometimes used for poetic emphasis or humor, sometimes merely for reflection.  Think Yakov Smirnoff jokes.

 

Examples:

  • In knowing that the slog hates you, so should you hate the slog.
  • The slog lives to fail, and in doing so fails to live.

 

Antimetabole.  Use it.

 

Bene scribete.

I Hate You, The Slog

The slog hates you

I hate you, the slog.

 

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

I hate you, the slog.

 

You are not very nice
and now I’ve said it twenty-twice.

 

Bene scribete.

Zero Drafting

Last week, I talked about a writing exercise that helps get my brain working faster when my pace has slowed to a crawl.  After spewing out a lot of nonsense that way, I wanted to see if I could apply that high-output word vomit toward something a little more productive, and eventually gravitated toward my current approach of beginning with a hectically speed-written, gloriously sloppy version of each scene in The Book.  A “Draft 0”, if you will.

The basics of zero-drafting are similar to the exercise, only the goal is to try to follow the points of your story-planning rather than letting your mind lead you at random.  You still write as quickly as you can without stopping; the garbage can be cleaned out later.  I started by only doing ten minutes at a time, taking a short break between stints, then moved on to doing a whole scene at once, and now I’ll do an entire chapter in a single go (usually about a two-hour endeavor).  The immediate results are truly cringe-worthy, but that’s O.K.  No one else has to look at this stuff (…for real, this time!).  It gives you a basic framework to follow for the first legitimate draft; some passages will have to be tossed, but many might only need a little editing, and you may even find that the narrative took a few unplanned but ultimately beneficial turns because of the pressure and spontaneity – ideas that could have been missed if you had instead plodded carefully through the first run with an overfocused mind.

Because of my deep-seated need for precision and my perpetual worry of screwing things up, there’s always a build-up of anxiety before I start a draft 0, but once I get rolling with it, it’s extremely liberating.  Regardless of how terrible it is when finished, it’s still a big step forward in the process of getting the book together, and it actually leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.  That’s not something to take for granted; in a solitary activity like writing, self-encouragement is imperative to sticking with it.

In any event, the issue at core here is the subject of today’s Fish Tip.

 

Tip of a fishWrite First.  Edit Second.

It has to be some sort of writing axiom.  Things tend to go a lot more smoothly if you get your ideas down first, and then organize them afterward.  If you edit first, and only write down a sentence after you’ve revised it several times mentally, then the process slows dramatically, and you leave yourself at the mercy of the slog (not to mention it will likely need to be edited again, anyway).

It’s a sentiment we’re all familiar with, I’m sure, but it’s something that certainly still gives me trouble.  One of those things that’s easier said than done!

 

Bene scribete.

Writing Exercise

If, like me, you’re constantly bogged down by the slog, then you probably understand the frustration that comes with, well, writing too dang slow.  In an effort to take the fight to the troublesome pest and kick that writing into motion, I’ve come up with a little exercise (though I’m sure I’m hardly the first to do so) to help encourage getting those words down more freely.

It’s fairly simple.  Take a character from your story, pick a starting place or incident, and then write without stopping for ten minutes.  Without stopping.  Don’t correct mistakes, don’t touch backspace, don’t think too hard, just follow the flow of your thought process.  Write whatever pops into your head, as quickly as you can; if your mind is only a sentence ahead of your hands, you’re doing great – you might be surprised what your brain will come up with when you force it into high gear.  It doesn’t have to be canonical, it doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t even have to make sense, so long at the end of those ten minutes you have something that vaguely resembles a chunk of narrative (I’ll usually get around 500-600 words).  The best part is that you can tell your self-consciousness to take a hike, as you never have to show these to anyone.

 

So here’s one of mine that I’ll show to everyone.  (>^-‘)>  I started with the primary protagonist from The Book, put her next to a river, and everything else just came as I typed.

  The vermillion dragon lay peacefully next to the riverbed, organizing sticks in a star-like pattern, setting the end of each one next to the middle of the one before, at a slight angle so that the entire design would be saw-like. The last one was imperfect, so she began again.
  “Um…hello?” a gentle voice appeared beside her.
  Xenasi started, turning her head to look at the one who invaded her solace. It was a deer.
  “I am a deer,” said the deer.
  “I see that you are…” she said warily. “Though I’m not sure why you can speak.”
  “I am the kind of deer that can talk,” he said bashfully.
  “There is such a thing?”
  “Before you stands proof that there is.” He slumped down into a sitting position. “I have a problem.”
  “Why would you approach a dragon with a problem? Would it not occur to you that I might rather eat you than help you?”
  “It occurred.” He squinted and wrenched his face and looked away. “But I thought that you wouldn’t.”
  Xenasi blinked. “I…I guess I already ate. What should I call you?”
  “Malbulous,” the deer sighed.
  It was a ponderous name. Though it seemed unlikely to be the source of his problems. “What is this problem that you would approach a dragon to help?”
  “Well,” the deer whapped a hoof against the ground in frustration. “Well, my super-awesome-doe-girlfriend left me.
  “And…what? Why…um…what?”
  “She left me for another deer. A stupid buck whose antlers are way too big and he’s probably trying to compensate for something with them. So, anyway, I want you to eat him instead of me. He is bigger than me, so you’ll have a much more satisfying meal. I promise.”
  Xenasi had just told the deer that she had already eaten, so she was not sure how to respond. I suppose I could stash the carcass for later. “I suppose I can help you. Where is this other buck?”
  “Just down the river a way,” replied Malbulous. “If you hurry, you can probably catch him. He’s probably just…getting all over my doefriend.” He got up, but only so his subsequent sulk would have more room to express itself.
  “What about your girlfriend? Do you want her alive?”
  “Of course…”
  Xenasi stood and shook off for some reason. “What are you prepared to offer me for this favor?”
  “The tasty body of that stupid doe-stealing buckhead. Remember?”
  “Well, I thought getting that would just come out of doing that,” the dragon nonsensed.
  The deer began to gallop away. “This waaaaaaaay!”
  Xenasi narrowed her eyes, but spread her wings and took flight, easily outpacing the deer and making her way down the river, eyes searching for the other buck of whom he spoke.
  It was only after a few minutes that she came across him, getting all cuddly with the doe who was once with Malbulous. Unsure of why she was cooperating, Xenasi swooped down and lunged at the unsuspecting buck. The buck jumped in fright, and tried to dart away, but was not so fast as the approaching dragon, and came to meet his end below her claws and between her teeth.

 

That’s the kind of thing that I end up with when I do these.  Just a stupid little passage written spontaneously while barreling over the slog.  I hope it goes without saying that it’s not an accurate representation of the character or my finished writing.  (>^-‘)>  Or would have gone, as I just said it.  You know what I mean.

Anyway, it’s something that helps me loosen up a little when I’m feeling brainclogged.  What kind of techniques do you use to battle your inhibitions?

Next time, we’ll take a look at extending this exercise into zero-drafting.  Until then, bene scribete.