Wake-Up Blue is the color of the sky when you wake up in the morning. It’s not navy blue or royal blue. It’s Wake-Up Blue.
His unique terminology really hit the mark. It was visual and specific before he ever picked up the crayon or pointed to the T shirt or even to the sky.
Another thing he
made up invented was: Pick me down.
Pick me up — followed by — pick me down. Why didn’t I think of that?
My daughter, years later, aptly coined the term “lasternight.” A compound word, no less, from a two-year-old. Last night + Yesterday = Lasternight.
We also have family words. All families do. Pass me the fishy crackers and when we have spaghetti don’t forget the sprinkle cheese. I don’t have to add a qualifier or explanation at home or for you either, do I?
Writers do this all the time. They – we – can have a way of saying things that no one else does. It’s more than choosing the right word, it’s putting the right words together the right way so that the reader knows exactly what we mean. And it sounds good, even if it sounds different. Maybe especially if it sounds different. We call it turn of phrase.
When I first started writing people told me a could turn a good phrase. Frankly, I had no idea what they meant, although I certainly said thank you. (They always said it so nicely, I knew it was to be taken as a compliment) As I got more into writing and did more and more reading with writer’s eyes, I knew exactly what they meant.
I was glad I’d said thank you.
For me, the best women’s fiction has underlineable phrases, sentences or paragraphs — something the author said in just the right, hit-the-nail-on-the-head way. It’s also true of all fiction (for me) and non-fiction like memoirs. When I read and the words are so evocative and precise, lyrical and smart that I am blown away. Sometimes something underlinable is just explaining something in a fabulous way. It’s the Wake-Up Blue and Lasternight of literature. We love to read it and we LOVE when we write it.
Do you have a particular turn of phrase that really made you think “I wish I’d written that!” Something that made you take a visual step back, read it again and realize it was masterful or just plain clever?
How about something one of your own characters says that’s specific to her or him only — whether it’s in dialogue or within the prose. In THE GLASS WIVES, one of the main character, Evie’s, best friends, Laney, refers to another character as The Widow. Laney never uses this gal’s name. It’s Laney’s thing. Not a turn of phrase but definitely a Laney-ism.
Are there any “isms” in your book? In your real life?
I realize you can’t come up with something better than Wake-Up Blue or Lasternight…but tell me anyway!