hack: This verb suggests heavy blows, possibly made in the heat of anger.
tear: In modern usage, this is the verb we use with paper or another flimsy substance. If complete destruction is meant, we say “tear to pieces,” or “tear in pieces.”
rip: This word can also be used of tearing paper, but carries a more forceful connotation.
rend: A bit old-fashioned, rend has a Biblical ring to it. Mourners rend their garments; the Lord threatens to rend Solomon’s kingdom from him. The past tense is rent: “When the town of Sunnydale slid into the hellmouth on ‘Buffy,’ my fellow fans and I rent our hair and blubbered.” (OED example)
NOTE: Rend is the verb in the expression “heart-rending”: “causing intense sorrow or emotional anguish.” Google Ngram Viewer indicates that the frequently heard eggcorn “heart-wrenching” first appeared in the 1950s.
slash: This word suggests a sweeping blow with a sword, although in our day, a broken beer bottle will do.
stab: This word implies the thrust of a short weapon, like a dagger.
Start carrying a journal around with you everywhere you go (if you don’t already). Take note of peoples conversations, what they say and what they do. Write down any interesting phrases or sentences that you hear. Observe.
The prompt for today:
Write a paragraph, short story, poem, article, essay, sentence, or phrase about the word fingernails.
I am so sorry for my absence. I have been crazy hectic with Cos school, poetry, teaching, workshops, events, blah blah blah. But I will be posting more regularly now so look out for some awesome videos and prompts!
Tracy Kidder is a renowned nonfiction writer, known as literary journalist for the way he combines story and voice with exhaustive research. He is the author of Among Schoolchildren and The Soul of a New Machine, which won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Richard Todd served as executive editor of the esteemed magazine The Atlantic and as the editor of his own book imprint at Houghton Mifflin. Kidder and Todd collaborated on the book Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction.
1. To write is to talk to strangers. You have to inspire confidence, to seem and to be trustworthy.
2. It is always prudent to remember that one is not Tolstoy or Dickens.
3. Don’t concentrate on technique, which can be the same as concentrating on yourself. Give yourself to your story.
4. The reader wants to see you not trying to impress, but trying to get somewhere.
5. For a story to have a chance to live, it is essential only that there be something at stake. A car chase is not required.
6. Try to attune yourself to the sound of your own writing. If you can’t imagine yourself saying something aloud, then you probably shouldn’t write it.
7. The creation of a style often begins with a negative achievement. Only by rejecting what comes too easily can you clear a space for yourself.
8. Use words wantonly and you disappear before your own eyes. Use them well and you create yourself.
9. The best work is done when one’s eye is simply on the work, not on its consequence, or on oneself. It is something done for its own sake. It is, in Lewis Hyde’s term, a gift.
10. Be willing to surprise yourself.