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Can’t find the wild word you need? Make one up

You would think that with all the words in the world, you’d have no trouble finding the ones you need in your writerly pursuits. Not so.

Sometimes, the words we want may be the ones we have to make up.

I’ve been reading children’s and YA books recently and love the way the authors have created words. One of my favorites is, Frindle, by Andrew Clements and Brian Selznick. It’s a story about a boy who decides to convince his classmates to start calling a pen by the name Frindle. Soon his town has joined in and then the country.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, is a heartbreaking and funny story about a terminally ill girl who meets and falls in love with a boy she meets at a kids’ cancer support group. Here are several of the made-up words Green uses:

  • askingly
  • prostitutional
  • cancertastic
  • cancervania

Using odd and original words and word combinations help set a tone and voice for a story, as well as create unique nuances in characters. In some stories, authors invent whole languages.

Creating new words can be as easy as shortening words or combining words, word roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

For more ideas on how how to create unique words, check out these posts:
The Weekly Vim and Vigor – Making Up Words at Fabulous Blogging and How to Create a Made-Up Word on wikiHow.

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