From diddleman to nominatrix
Open readers’ minds by creating your own words
The first people to “neologize publicly on purpose” were English writers Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Among other neologisms, Carroll, author of Through the Looking Glass, brought us “chortle,” a combination of “snort” and “chuckle.”
Or so says Barbara Wallraff, who should know. Wallraff is the author of “Word Fugitives,” a column that coins new words at readers’ request, which appears in The Atlantic Monthly. She also wrote the books Word Court and Your Own Words.
In her new book, Word Fugitives, she shares these four approaches for recreational word coining:
1. Add or subtract a syllable or a letter.
Smirch was a verb, Wallraff reports, before William Shakespeare added the prefix be- to it. And impediment was in use for at least 200 years before Shakespeare came up with impede.
How can you add or subtract a syllable to create a new word?
Give readers ‘the pleasure of the text’
Surprise and delight readers with wordplay
Neurologists call it “the pleasure of the text,” the reward readers get from figuring out figurative language. (It can be quite a reward: If your wordplay is funny enough, your readers’ brains even deliver a little dose of dopamine.)
That good feeling puts readers in an agreeable mood and may even open their minds to your message. In fact, one study found that ads using rhetorical techniques were 166% more likely to persuade readers and 229% more likely to be remembered than ads that did not.
The good news is that wordplay doesn’t take talent. It doesn’t take creativity. Instead, it takes techniques, tricks and time.
At Master the Art of the Storyteller — a two-day creative writing Master Class on Feb. 23-24 in Phoenix — you’ll learn tricks and techniques you can use to flip phrases; compress details; sub soundalikes; list, rhyme and twist — even coin new words.
You’ll get inspired by some of the world’s most creative headlines, master your skills in our wordplay workout and leave with a list of free online resources that do most of the work for you.
Don’t miss out on our only creative writing workshop in 2016. Save $100 when you register by 5 p.m. on Jan. 23. Register now.
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