Someday I’ll do a post that includes my most frequent notes to my editor when I’m sending her stuff I’ve written.
For today, though, I’m just going to touch on one of the Top 5 or so.
It goes a little something like this:
Language is an interesting tool. As a former classical studies major, I spent the better part of a decade studying Latin writing and theory. Which is a blessing and a curse.
I inherently understand the roots of a big part of the English language, and I know how to append prefixes and suffixes to various words to make them “say what I want them to say.”
On the flip side, this often means using vocabulary that may or not be real. Linguistically, it makes sense. But Webster hasn’t signed off on their existence (yet).
As I said, language is an interesting tool. It holds so much of our ability to communicate eloquently (and sometimes not so eloquently) in a few dozen characters.
Looking at literature over the years, I’m encouraged that my crafty manipulations are not anything new. William Shakespeare, the poet-playwright who blessed/cursed your high school English classes with iambic pentameter and Middle English constructs, is believed by some to have created hundreds, if not thousands, of new English words.
Debate is fierce on this, as modern technology instead shows that “it is next to impossible to tell whether Shakespeare really ‘invented’ these words or was simply the first to write them down.”
Whether these words are the darlings of Shakespeare’s imagination or he simply was the first prolific writer to feature them in such a way that they became commonplace in the public vernacular, here are some of my favorite “by Shakespeare” words and phrases:
“You that way and you this, but two in company; each man apart, all single and alone, yet an arch-villain keeps him company.” – Timon
“No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas in incarnadine, making the green one red.” – Macbeth
“Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green.” – Katherina
“His captain’s heart, which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst the buckles on his breast, reneges all temper, and is become the bellows and the fan to cool a gipsy’s lust.” – Philo
“What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen?” – Puck
Elisa Doucette is a writer and editor who works with professional writers, entrepreneurs, and brands that want to make their own words even better. She is the Founder of Craft Your Content, and oversees Client Strategy and Writing Coaching. Her own writing has been featured in places like Forbes, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Yahoo! Small Business, and The Huffington Post, among others. She also hosts the Writers' Rough Drafts podcast here on CYC. When she isn't writing, editing, or reading words, she can usually be found at a local pub quiz, deep in a sun salutation, or binging TV shows for concept ideas and laughs.