Dictionary Stories: A Challenge

Dictionaries aren’t usually meant for light reading. We’re here to change that: July’s challenge is to write dictionary stories.

Often, a dictionary definition is paired with a sentence for context. For instance, Merriam-Webster’s word of the day is crackerjack. Its context sentence is:

She is a crackerjack athlete who excels in soccer and softball.

The goal is to string these context sentences together to tell a story. They are often hilarious and surprisingly poignant. One of my favorites is from a site called Dictionary Stories (check them out for ideas):

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Back in October, I tried my hand at it. It felt like Mad Libs:

The children in their Halloween costumes heard a terrifying noise coming from the next room. The noise spooked the cat. (The children were pretending to be animals.) The stuntman, a sorcerer who used his power for evil ends, crashed through the window on a motorcycle. “What do you want?” he growled. The street was covered with broken glass.

There was an awkward pause in the conversation. He looked back the way he had come—the officers police the streets for reckless drivers.

Cheese it, the cops!”

The moment has arrived. The actor was nervous about his big scene. For his last trick, the magician made a rabbit disappear: the child of the wealthy industrialist was kidnapped and held for ransom.

Now it’s your turn! It can be short and sweet or long and suspenseful. It can be whatever you want.

So, here’s the deal:

  • Send in your dictionary story to rachel@inkblotediting.com. Italicize or underline the key word in each sentence or clause (if you’re looking for good sample sentences, use Merriam-Webster). Feel free to change punctuation to combine sentences, but don’t add any new text if you can help it. Also let us know if your piece has a title.
  • We’ll post it on the site!
  • Feel free to send as many as you like.

After all, the best way to learn is by experience. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun!

Friday Fun Facts: Collective Nouns

Happy Friday! We’ve made it through yet another week.

Today, I thought I’d share something that makes me giggle—English’s amazing collection of collective nouns. The most well known is likely a murder of crows. While some dispute the legitimacy of these terms, calling them whimsy (and perhaps they are), they are still fun. Why not allow English, in all its weirdness, to play?

A mumuration of starlings via Wikipedia
A mumuration of starlings via Wikipedia

So, here are some of my favorite collective nouns. What are yours?

  • Parliament of owls
  • Pride of lions
  • Flight of ghosts
  • Grumble of pugs
  • Quiver of arrows
  • Prickle of porcupines
  • Conspiracy of lemurs
  • Twangle of harps
  • Gang of buffalo
  • Band of gorillas
  • Vagary of impediments
  • Unkindness of ravens
  • Murmuration of starlings
  • Pandemonium of parrots
  • Phalanx of umbrellas
  • Bloom of jellyfish
  • Audience of squid

Stay tuned next week for July’s challenge! It’ll be a fun one.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Friday Fun Facts: Prompts from the Interwebs

Happy Friday, everyone! Thanks for the amazing book spine poetry. We will have more for you next week! And if you still haven’t gotten around to making one, stack some books this weekend and send your poem in!

In the meantime, here’s the best from the Interwebs to get your creative juices flowing.

Enjoy your weekend! And be sure to write down all those awesome dad jokes.

Splendors of the Past: Book Spine Poetry

by Christy Shivell

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Splendors of the past

The savage garden

The resilient gardener

Tick-tock sharks

Dress your family in corduroy and denim

The modern-day pioneer

Stalking the wild asparagus

Bringing nature home

Their eyes were watching God

Flow

The secret of wildflowers

The view from the oak

The mysterious edge of the heroic world

Where the wild things are


If you have a book spine poem, send it in!