Word Shape


I recently did a writing exercise with Karen Terrey where we attempted to associate words not by meaning, but by shape or sound. The idea was to open up new avenues of connection in our writing. This is what I came up with, beginning with the word defenestrate. You might have more fun reading this out loud.

Defenestrate the prostrate ingrate’s potentate onto the cattle-grate.

Flagellates coagulate in the glutamate substrate to propagate the caliphate.

Constipated, pro-rated ammonites copulate under the ungulate.

Inoculate the chocolate against the inflamed prostate.

Let that percolate or you’ll pro-create an inanimate polychaete.


And, in a completely related note, Mark Twain might consider me a southern author now –

In his long-vanished day the Southern author had a passion for “eloquence”; it was his pet, his darling. He would be eloquent, or perish. And he recognized only one kind of eloquence—the lurid, the tempestuous, the volcanic. He liked words—big words, fine words, grand words, rumbling, thundering, reverberating words; with sense attaching if it could be got in without marring the sound, but not otherwise. He loved to stand up before a dazed world, and pour forth flame and smoke and lava and pumice-stone into the skies, and work his subterranean thunders, and shake himself with earthquakes, and stench himself with sulphur fumes. If he consumed his own fields and vineyards, that was a pity, yes; but he would have his eruption at any cost. Mr. Mc Clintock‘s eloquence— and he is always eloquent, his crater is always spouting—is of the pattern common to his day, but he departs from the custom of the time in one respect: his brethren allowed sense to intrude when it did not mar the sound, but he does not allow it to intrude at all. For example, consider this figure, which he used in the village “Address” referred to with such candid complacency in the title-page above quoted—”like the topmost topaz of an ancient tower.” Please read it again; contemplate it; measure it; walk around it; climb up it; try to get at an approximate realization of the size of it. Is the fellow to that to be found in literature, ancient or modern, foreign or domestic, living or dead, drunk or sober? One notices how fine and grand it sounds. We know that if it was loftily uttered, it got a noble burst of applause from the villagers; yet there isn’t a ray of sense in it, or meaning to it.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider buying the author’s novel.


For customers living in East Asia.




  1. Great blog. Love it.

    Many years ago, in southern Mississippi, I was privileged to hear a a local politician’s campaign speech in which he said, “my opponent is a practicing homo sapien and I have proof that he has committed acts of nepotism with members of his own family.” Powerful words, those.

    1. Hahaha, wow. I had never before considered the possibility of a non-practicing homo-sapien!

      1. A new world of possibilities unfolds.

  2. Lol. Communication serves many purposes. Sometimes comprehension isn’t one of them. 🙂

  3. O.K. Ben my head is spinning. 🙂

    1. You weren’t able to glean my deep, artistic meaning? 😉

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