Newbie Writer’s Podcast
The Urban Myth Jungle
They are important to writers in two ways:
One, to use them to your advantage, create a rift on an urban legend and create a whole new work.
Two, to know them is to not mistake them for the truth and foolishly report the legends at fact.
Urban legends are fascinating; they are the folktales of our modern culture.
Unlike ﬁction or a comic story, which must have a plausible framework to
create the story and to give it structure, an urban legend creates framework
by insisting the story is true. I know a woman who is the aunt of a boy who
went to school with me. This is pedigree enough, and the teller launches into
the story of:
The woman (the aunt of a boy who went to school with me) who dried out
her poodle in the microwave.
Or the uncle who woke up in Vegas in a bathtub of ice and one less kidney.
You know these stories, you hand them around during a break at a conference
or as a way to start a conversation with a group of strangers at a party.
There is nothing wrong with passing along a “fabulously-true-because-you-
heard-it-from-someone-who-knows” story, but be more careful in writing these
down, or citing the stories as “fact” in a school or business paper. And also
know that in a good ﬁctional story, the situation and resolution must make
more sense than the “true” urban legend ever did.
Bring out your dead
Dianne Solberg mums piece. Patti Gray Wolf
She awoke with a start, not sure of where she was. Curled into a ball on the damp ground, she shivered. Cold had settled into her bones and her whole body ached, but that didn’t matter. Pain had been a part of her life from her earliest memories, after her mama died. She felt the stinging bites of insects, but didn’t bother to brush them off her skin.
Pushing up to a sitting position, she stilled her breathing and listened. Was he out there looking for her? Probably so, seeing as how, when he wanted her, he always came for her late in the evening and took her to his place until late the next morning. Soon as he saw she was gone, he’d be out the door looking for her. So would Pa. Goose pimples prickled her body, and her stomach cramped. She tried to pray, but her fear whirled around in her head leaving her dizzy.
Struggling to stand, she realized she was clutching the chain that ran between the shackles on her ankles. It hurt something awful where they cut into her flesh. If she could just get rid of the things, she wouldn’t be slowed down so much, but Pa’d made sure they were locked on good and tight.
Which way out? Pa’s was back up the hollar and past the old Hyde place, but she knew better than to go home again. She had to be careful not to get herself turned around in the dark and end up back at the farm. These woods weren’t familiar to her, but she knew he and Pa knew them like the back of their hand. Got to get out of here. Got to get away. Somebody had to stop him before he hurt . . . What was that noise?
Suddenly a heavy weight slammed into her pressing down on her chest, pinning her to the damp earth. She felt her head smash against a rock, felt a warm wetness ooze down her scalp and quickly, numbness moved up her body. Unconsciousness was coming. She’d felt it–welcomed it–too many times before, that fading away into darkness. But, not now! She had to get out–
She had to find her baby.
Word of the Week
This word — meaning to speak pompously — is almost entirely restricted to the United States; it doesn’t appear in any of my British English dictionaries, not even the big Oxford English Dictionary or the very recent New Oxford Dictionary of English. Yet it has a long history.
It’s most closely associated with U S President Warren Gamaliel Harding, who used it a lot and who was by all accounts the classic example of somebody who orates verbosely and windily. It’s a compound of blow, in its sense of “to boast” (also in another typical Americanism, blowhard), with a mock-Latin ending to give it the self-important stature that’s implicit in its meaning.
The word is actually much older than Harding; Fred Shapiro of the Yale Law School has recently turned up several examples from the middle of the last century, such as this one from the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Ohio in 1851: “The bloviators attempt to disturb the proceedings of this Convention”. This and other examples suggest it was at first a local word in Ohio, Harding’s home state. Bloviate may be a back-formation from the noun bloviation. This would fit with the US fashion in the early nineteenth century for expansive mock-Latinate words like sockdolager, hornswoggle and absquatulate.
There’s a gap in the citation record in the middle years of this century. The word only began to be used again in the 1960s, even then at first always in reference to Harding. This may be linked with a number of biographies of him that appeared about that time. The word only returned to any sort of regular use in the nineties.
Have you ever not said something and were later glad you didn’t?
Write about the times you wished you kept your mouth shut.
If you need to increase the tension in a fiction chapter or lift a sagging story line, allow your character to blurt out some inconvenient truth to the wrong person. It will keep things lively.
Ever do that yourself?
Philippe Perez- @p_perez
Han Girl @han_grrl www.girlwandering.blog.com