1. It’s time for you and Writer’s Block to part ways. Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s Block, starting out with, “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me … .”
2. You and your three closest friends decide to go camping. You arrive and set up camp nearly three miles away from where you left your car. Late that evening, as you sit around the campfire roasting marshmallows, one of your friends reveals a deep dark secret that turns what was to be a fun weekend into one of the scariest weekends of your life.
3. Two men stop you on your way into your local post office. One flashes a badge at you. They tell you about a top secret sting operation they are about to execute and they need your help. They can’t give you any of the details, only that you are to walk into the post office, go up to the counter with the gentleman named Bert working it, and you have to say to him, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” Write what happens next.
4. Pretend you are a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon while attending your high school reunion. Start your story with “I hadn’t had a drink in nearly 10 years” and end it with “If only I could remember where I left my pants.”
5. You’re cleaning out your garage and, hidden away in a back corner, you find an old shoebox. The box is heavier than it should be. When you open it up, you find cash—$40,000, to be exact. Where did the cash come from, who hid it there and why?
6. When you were little, you could swear there was a monster under your bed–but no one believed you. On the eve of your 30th birthday, you hear noises coming from under your bed once again. The monster is back and has an important message to deliver to you.
Here are some of the most common openings I see, as they’re almost always a rejection:
- Waking Up: Avoid the first moments of the day, especially if your character is being snapped out of a dream.
- School Showcase: A character introducing the requisite best friend and the school bully
- Family Showcase: Introductions of parents, siblings, pets
- Room Tour: A character sitting in her room, thinking, looking over her stuff
- Emo Kid: A character sitting and thinking about all his problems
- Normal No More: A character lamenting how normal, average, and/or lame her life is, which is the writer setting us up for the big change that’s about to happen
- Moving Van: A character in the car, driving to his new house, hating every minute of it
- Mirror Catalogue: Looking at oneself and describing one’s flaws, usually with a self-deprecating voice
- Summer of Torture: A character lamenting how she has to do something that she doesn’t want to do (live in a haunted house, go visit Grandma, work at the nursery) all summer long
- New Kid: A character worrying about being the new kid on his first day of school or wizard training or the vampire academy
- RIP Parents: One or both parental units kicking the bucket suddenly and tragically
- Dystopian Selection: In the dystopian genre, it’s the day of choosing jobs, getting selected for something awful, being paired with a soul mate, etc.
These are very common beginnings and all I ask is that, if you choose to forge ahead and brave one, make it fresh.
1. anomaly – an irregularity; an abnormality
Example: If I get struck by lightening, I’ll be a statistical anomaly!
2. ethereal – something lacking physical substance; light and intangible
Example: This ambient music is so gentle, so ethereal!
3. loquacious – talkative
Example: For someone with such limited vocabulary, you’d think she’d be less loquacious!
4. empathy – an understanding of and identification with the feelings or experience of another
Example: I empathize — I’ve been there!
5. agnostic – the position that God’s existence cannot be proven or disproved; one who doesn’t confirm or deny God’s existence
Example: A: “Are you religious?” B. “No.” A: “You don’t believe in God?” B: “I didn’t say that.” A: “Oh, you’re agnostic!”
6. protocol – a system by which a task is completed correctly
Example: Is there a protocol for parenting feral children?
7. fascist – a person who believes a dictator should be in control of a nation’s economic and social policies
Example: A: “You shouldn’t be trusted to take care of yourself.” B: “You fascist!”
8. sycophant – one who prostrates himself before and flatters another as a means to personal gain
Example: He thought I would go on a date with him if he told me how undeserving of my company he was — what a sycophant!
9. facetious – a remark or attitude characterized by insincerity and humorousness
Example: When he said that nobody likes a liar, I facetiously remarked that the guy who sets liars’ pants on fire probably likes them.
10. capricious – acting impulsively
Example: Here’s a hundred bucks, kid; go be capricious!
11. salient – highly prominent; impossible to ignore
Example: All stuffed up, she sprayed saline solution into her salient schnoz.
12. superfluous – excessive; an unnecessary amount
Example: I like icing on my cake, but this two-inch layer is a bit superfluous.
13. ambiguous – vague; allowing for many interpretations
Example: I’m sorry for the misunderstanding; my explanation was ambiguous.
14. spongiform – spongelike; porous and soft
Example: What spongiform skin you have!
15. deficit – shortfall or insufficiency
Example: His stiff personality suffered from a humour deficit.
Lovecraft enumerates the twenty most common mistakes of young authors, “aside from those gross violations of syntax which ordinary education corrects,” and offers a common cure for all:
- Erroneous plurals of nouns, as vallies or echos.
- Barbarous compound nouns, as viewpoint or upkeep.
- Want of correspondence in number between noun and verb where the two are widely separated or the construction involved.
- Ambiguous use of pronouns.
- Erroneous case of pronouns, as whom for who, and vice versa, or phrases like “between you and I,” or “Let we who are loyal, act promptly.”
- Erroneous use of shall and will, and of other auxiliary verbs.
- Use of intransitive for transitive verbs, as “hewas graduated from college,” or vice versa, as “he ingratiated with the tyrant.”
- Use of nouns for verbs, as “he motored to Boston,” or “he voiced a protest.”
- Errors in moods and tenses of verbs, as “If Iwas he, I should do otherwise,” or “He said the earth was round.”
- The split infinitive, as “to calmly glide.”
- The erroneous perfect infinitive, as “Last week I expected to have met you.”
- False verb-forms, as “I pled with him.”
- Use of like for as, as “I strive to write likePope wrote.”
- Misuse of prepositions, as “The gift was bestowed to an unworthy object,” or “The gold was divided between the five men.”
- The superfluous conjunction, as “I wish for you to do this.”
- Use of words in wrong senses, as “The book greatly intrigued me,” “Leave me take this,” “He was obsessed with the idea,” or “He is ameticulous writer.”
- Erroneous use of non-Anglicised foreign forms, as “a strange phenomena,” or “two stratas of clouds.”
- Use of false or unauthorized words, asburglarize or supremest.
- Errors of taste, including vulgarisms, pompousness, repetition, vagueness, ambiguousness, colloquialism, bathos, bombast, pleonasm, tautology, harshness, mixed metaphor, and every sort of rhetorical awkwardness.
- Errors of spelling and punctuation, and confusion of forms such as that which leads many to place an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its.
Of all blunders, there is hardly one which might not be avoided through diligent study of simple textbooks on grammar and rhetoric, intelligent perusal of the best authors, and care and forethought in composition. Almost no excuse exists for their persistent occurrence, since the sources of correction are so numerous and so available.’
Surnames are just as important as given names. So, I compiled a list of the websites I use to find my surnames.
- English Surnames
- Dutch Surnames
- Spanish Surnames
- Scottish Surnames
- German Surnames
- Italian Surnames
- Irish Surnames
- French Surnames
- Scandinavian Surnames
- Welsh Surnames
- Jewish Surnames
- Surnames By Ethnicity
- Most Common Surnames in the USA
- Most Common Surnames in Great Britan
- Most Common Surnames in Asia