Playing with Words

This weekend, the fields will be full of people playing, kicking balls of various shapes and sizes. Writers like to play too, but their playthings are words. It goes without saying that if you’re a writer, you love words. And you’re always kicking them around in your head, pulling them apart and putting them back together.

Playing with words isn’t just nonsense. It can be a way into your story. That’s because playing with words frees up your mind and gives you access to the cave of wonders that is your imagination. As your inhibitions go, the ideas flow.

Here are a few ways you can turn words into your playthings.

  1. Alphabet Soup

Write the 26 letters of the alphabet down one side of a page. Then write 26 words to match. See if you can break up those 26 words into sentences. Each word will begin with the next letter of the alphabet. For example.

A Black Cat Drifted Eastwards

Keep going until you’ve reached the end. The sentences can be as daft as you like, as long as they’re recognisable as sentences. And you can give yourself a bit of leeway with X and Z.

 2. Play with the Dictionary

The dictionary contains many wonderfully obscure words. Open a random page, look for the weirdest word you can find and see if you can them in a sentence. Or, to really challenge yourself, pick three words and see if you can weave them into a one-paragraph story.

3.  Word Deconstruction

Worried that your writing is cluttered with clichés? All you have to do is play around with your sentences. Change the order of the words, drop a word, turn a noun into an adjective or a verb and you have a completely original image.

For example.

He charged through the crowd like a battering ram


He battering-rammed through the crowd.

Or the classic ‘he was as white as snow,’ becomes

He was white snow

Or even

He was snow.

4. The Laughing Tree

They say writing comes from the subconscious. The best way to tap into your subconscious is to just let the words flow onto the page, without stopping them or worrying about their order. Doing that helps you come up with wild and wacky images, like a tree laughing in the wood. It’s known as free writing and it gets you past that little voice that tells you your work is crap.

Feel free to suggest your own ways of playing with words.


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