Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rewriting Prompt the First

If you dropped in on Monday, you saw the first of my weekly writing prompts. Today, I launch another feature: REwriting prompts.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Writing Prompt Numero Uno

This is the first installment of what I hope will become a feature here at Logophilius: a weekly writing prompt!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I've Been Verbed

Last night, in spite of the icy roads, I drove down to Indy Reads Books for the monthly Indy WordLab. Little did I know that I would be immortalized in fiction. Even littler did I give much thought to how I might feel about such immortalization.

Regardless, my friend Erik Deckers not only referenced me in his little bit of flash fiction, but he verbed my last name. Take five minutes to check out his story Peter and the Disembodied Voice.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Plus Ca Change

To all the bloggers, journalists, and nonfiction writers out there, I share this excerpt:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Today's word: myrmecoid

I've been reading Thomas McCormack's The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist. I recommend it to any adult who is or wants to either edit or write fiction — or, like some of us, both. I specifically recommend it to "adults" because it's written for readers with a pretty high reading level. It takes a slow, careful reading to fully take in and appreciate the book.

Not to imply that it's plodding, though. Reading McCormack's book isn't like walking through knee-high mud — a lot of effort to go a little way. It's more like good cheesecake — best savored slowly, with pauses for palate cleansing to make the next taste more delectable. One could shove the whole piece of cake (book) into one's mouth at once, but it wouldn't be enjoyable and would probably cause a stomach ache.

It's not an easy book, but it's worth the effort. Had I tried to read it in high school, I would have struggled with the vocabulary alone. Even now, I had to pull out my dictionary a few times.
Take, for example, this nice metaphor from page 72:

...editing can't be done well by winging instinct alone. Nor does 'long experience' guarantee much. Or myrmecoid industry on the lawn of the book.
Myrmecoid doesn't get its own entry in my Merriam-Webster's, but its meaning is easy to discern from what is there. A quick lookup reveals that myrmeco- is a combining form to indicate a relation to ants. Myrmecology is the study of ants. Myrmecoid, then, means "ant-like" or "relating to ants."

McCormack's "myrmecoid industry on the lawn of the book" is a metaphorical recapitulation of a recurring idea: that an editor can put a lot of work into a novel, find a lot to fix and improve in the novel's language, characterizations, and organization — its lawn — without improving (or even recognizing the need to improve) the deeper, structural problems a book might have — what lies beneath the lawn.

I'm a sucker for superhero movies, but it's an honest-to-blog coincidence that this word myrmecoid came into my life just a couple days after the first TV broadcast of a trailer for the upcoming Ant-Man movie. From what I saw in that trailer, Michael Douglas plays the part of some sort of cutting-edge myrmecologist, or maybe a myrmecophile physicist.

Assuming the word shows up more than once in the movie, legions of moviegoers may add myrmecologist to their vocabularies by the end of summer.

You get a head start.

Logodaedalists take note: The similarities between the words myrmecoid and myrmidon lend those words to interesting puns, comparisons, and intentional malapropisms.

Myrmidons were specifically the Thessalians who marched with Achilles into the Trojan War. More generally, a myrmidon today is, according to Merriam-Webster's, "a loyal follower; esp: a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously." In other words, a myrmidon is a minion, a thug, a henchman.

One can easily draw comparisons to a swarm of ant drones possessing legendary (relative) strength, thoughtlessly carrying out the work of the army.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year in Review (Is the Most Cliched Post Title Ever)

The year 2014 was, overall, a difficult time for me as a writer and an editor. I could write up a whole retrospective of what happened in the last twelve months, but it would come off as one long whine.

Let's stick to the blog, shall we?