Tag Archives: Writing


The Colors, Man. The Colors.

Juliet and Jon paint pictures with color words.

They discuss Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus. It’s usefulness and limitations. They read some lovely sentences and tackle the difficult issue of skin colors.

Show Links:

Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus

Josh Roby’s Handy Words for Skin Tones

Pantone Colors of Human Skin

7 Offensive Mistakes Well-Intentioned Writers Make

Fates and Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff (Kindle Edition)

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Kindle Edition)

The color image was lovingly swiped from Denise Rose.



Corpse of the Corpus

Jon and Juliet discuss some of the fantastic on-line tools for researching slang through time (among other things): Historical Dictionaries and—cue the dramatic music—The Corpus.


Links from the show:

Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com)

On-line Slang Dictionary ( http://onlineslangdictionary.com)

Historical Dictionary of American Slang (http://www.alphadictionary.com/slang/)

What is a Corpus? Slides by linguist Jonathan Owen (http://allthingslinguistic.com/post/144161398933/interesting-slides-about-copyediting-and-corpus)

The Google Corpus or Ngram Viewer (https://books.google.com/ngrams)


Italic—Good or Evil?

Italic? What’s the matter with italic? I use it everywhere!

Juliet and Jon discuss italic’s use in novels and YA novels. We have a little anecdote, a little history, a little caution, and a little advice. And none of those words should have been in italic. Including italic.


Profanity or Amateurfanity?

We cover all the letter-bombs…
from F to N.

Juliet and Jon discuss the use of profanity in novels and its use for specific characters. We also consider the four types of profanity, strengths, weakness, and the cultural trends.

During the show, Jon mentioned Benjamin Bergen’s book:

31FtFM59l8L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves by Benjamin K. Bergen
(Amazon link.)

Smart as hell and funny as fuck, this book explains why we can’t stop swearing and what it tells us about our language and brains.

Everyone swears. Only the rare individual can avoid ever letting slip an expletive. And yet, we ban the words from television and insist that polite people excise them from their vocabularies. That’s a fucking shame. Not only is swearing colorful, fun, and often powerfully apt, as linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen shows us, the study of it can provide a new window onto how our brains process language. How can patients left otherwise speechless after a stroke still shout out “Goddamn!”? Why did Pope Francis say “fuck” in the middle of a speech? When did a cock cease to be a rooster? Why is “crap” vulgar when “poo” is just childish? And what are we shooting when we give someone the bird?

What the F? Let me effing tell you.

Jon also mentioned that Benjamin Bergen appeared on a recent podcast. The show was Why Are So Many Swear Words Monosyllabic? on Slate’s Lexicon Valley.



The Next Chapter—Length and Title

Novels are made from them.
How long should they be?
What to call them?

Juliet and Jon discuss chapters. How long should they be? What about chapter titles?

It turns out Jon had considered—at least for a time—the worst chapter name in the history of the multi-verse for one of the books he’s working on.


Bonus images. After Juliet’s help, here’s the before and after from Jon’s murder mystery:


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The M-Dash

The M-dash is punctuation—it’s that long dash.
If you write—you probably use it often.
But do you know the four main uses?
Jon only knew only three and only used two.

Join us as we discuss the uses and misuses of Juliet’s favorite punctuation mark. And don’t worry, Matt, we also discuss the M-Dash versus the N-Dash issue.


Jon mentioned Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium in the show. (Amazon link and text.)

The second book in Lauren Oliver’s remarkable New York Timesbestselling trilogy about forbidden love, revolution, and the power to choose.

In this electrifying follow-up to Delirium, Lena is on a dangerous course that takes her through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

The photo is the 100 Yards Dash, Newcastle Teachers’ College, NSW, Australia – 1952. Link on Flickr.



What makes humans unique among the animals?
A great idea for a novel?

Jon and Juliet discuss Yuval Noah Harari’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Jon explains how Mr. Harari’s notion of the cognitive revolution has changed his perspective on writing.

Buy Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind on Amazon and help support our show.

(From Amazon) From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.


Also mentioned in this show are the very good podcasts:

A Way With Words with Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett take calls from listeners about language.

EconTalk an economics podcast with weekly interviews with guests ranging from small business owners to Nobel Laureates. Hosted by Russ Roberts. This is where Jon first heard about the Harari book.


Character’s Mental Health

Let’s get real:
That punch to the head…
That divorce…
That violence…
That abuse…
All have consequences on character.

Jon and Juliet talk about trauma and what it means to characters. We love it when the cowboy gets punched on the nose but gets right back on his horse. But have you ever been punched on the nose?

Links and Things Mentioned in the Show:

Jon mentioned Sarah Zarr’s very good podcast: This Creative Life. Especially episode 48: Corey Ann Haydu & Adult Children of Alcoholics.

Another podcast about mental health that Jon recommends is The Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin.


Writer’s Tics

Writers tend to repeat things.
We discuss what and why.

Jon and Juliet start with their own verbal tics: Juliet’s awesome and Jon’s to da loo. We talk about Gillian Lynn’s Gone Girl an the number of literally. In Jon’s novel Loom, he discusses removing the world moment seventy-five or so times.

Mentioned on the show:

Gone Girl by Gillian Lynn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? (Link and Text From Amazon.)


How Do You Spell Phonetic?

Wat are the barriors to becomming a writter?
Their are manny.
Butt one might just get you the most riddicule.

Jon and Juliet share stories of spelling, misspelling, and what it really means to be a writer. As a bonus, Jon shares a story from Miss Jones’ class in the sixth grade.