The From the Heart chapter of RWA has a writing group contrarily called the Procrastinators. Really what we do is pick a week or two every month to post goals and encourage each other to move forward, with quotes, cheerleading, and tips. I’m the host this month, and I thought I’d cross-post the tips.
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day
: to tease or torment by or as if by presenting something desirable to the view but continually keeping it out of reach
The older brother mercilessly tantalized the younger one, repeatedly holding out the ball to him only to snatch it back at the last second.
Did you know?
Pity poor King Tantalus of Phrygia. The mythic monarch offended the ancient Greek gods. As punishment, he was plunged up to his chin in water in Hades, where he had to stand beneath overhanging boughs of a tree heavily laden with ripe, juicy fruit. But though he was always hungry and thirsty, Tantalus could neither drink the water nor eat the fruit. Anytime he reached for them, they would retreat from him. Our word “tantalize” is taken from the name of the eternally tormented king.
I subscribe to Merriam-Webster’s Word a Day service and get a message something like the above in my e-mail every day. I started doing it for professional development: getting the background about etymology and related words helps me expand my vocabulary beyond just today’s word and explains the difference between superficially similar words. Merriam-Webster is the go-to dictionary for many publishing houses (American Heritage is for others; Oxford for the UK), which is why I picked it for my subscription, but there are other services:
- A.Word.A.Day: low-tech mailing list but plenty of information
- Dictionary.com offers up several quotes that use the day’s word
What I discovered is that the word is not just educational, but it can be an inspiring writing prompt; sometimes the example sentence is gold. I’m writing a novel that takes place in Ireland and I subscribed to a Gaelic word of the day for something to keep my mind on my story.
Is bean rua í. (She is a red-haired woman.)
Hear it pronounced.
A red-haired women, eh? Let me open my file for chapter 4 . . .
At Transparent.com, the company that does this, you can sign yourself up for a couple dozen languages.