As you may remember from your high school English class (you
kept all of your notes on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, didn’t you?) Shakespeare invented
around 1700 words in his plays and poems.
Frankly, I think I should be allowed the same freedom and
get all snitty when copyeditors point out details like “Apexed isn’t a verb.”
(And right now Microsoft is insisting that ‘snitty’ isn’t a word either.)
Shakespeare never had to deal with such constraints.
Here are some words you probably didn’t know he invented: eyeballs, puking, obscene, and skim milk.
Here are some words I wish he would have invented:
Another word for ‘drop’. Oh sure, there’s plunge and plummet, but
you can’t use them interchangeably. You can’t have a character plunge her car
keys on the floor. No one has ever said,
“Hey, plummet the act. I know you’re lying.” Nor has anyone’s mouth ever plunged open.
Another word for ‘door.’ We use them all the time. Character’s are constantly coming in them,
stalking out them, walking toward them, and slamming them. It’s hard not to overuse the word. And don’t
tell me I could use portal—no one actually thinks of a door as a portal unless they
are in spaceship or a submarine.
And multiple words for ‘turn’. In your novel, things will turn
colors, turn up, or turn from one thing into another. Your characters will take
turns, make right turns, turn over, turn back, turn their attention to things, see
how something turns out, and turn things down. They will also frequently turn
to each other. You can replace a few of those turns with spin, but that only
works if your characters are angry or ballerinas. If any word deserves a few synonyms,
On the other hand, there are also words I could happily axe
from the English language to make my life easier. Ask me how many times I mistyped the word
rifle in Slayers: Friends and Traitors and spelled it riffle. The problem is that riffle is a real word. Spell check doesn’t catch it. It
means: to form, flow over, or move in riffles.
How many times have we all written about our riffling habits.
Maybe someone should add a function to the computer so that
anytime someone grabs a riffle, a little warning pops up that says, “You amuse
our computer brain, silly mortal. And by
the way, you lightening cuting through the sky while your character is waking to the car.
Then again, sometimes I could use a good lightening bolt.