August 19, 2017

Quotes on wordplay

What writers and others say

“The writer has to take the most used, most familiar objects — nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs — ball them together and make them bounce.”
— Maya Angelou, poet, writer and educator, quoted in Smithsonian Magazine, April 2003

“Why isn’t ‘phonetic’ spelled the way it sounds?”
The Atomic Café

“You can taste a word.”
— Pearl Bailey, American popular singer, quoted in Newsweek

“When you write, you make a sound in the reader’s head. It can be a dull mumble — that’s why so much government prose makes you sleepy — or it can be a joyful noise, a sly whisper, a throb of passion.”
— Russell Baker, U.S. columnist and journalist

“Words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon thoughts, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.”
— Lord Byron, notorious Romantic poet and satirist

“Words fascinate me. They always have. For me, browsing in a dictionary is like being turned loose in a bank.”
— Eddie Cantor, American comedian, singer, actor, songwriter

“I’ve known all my life that I could take a bunch of words and throw them up in the air and they would come down just right.”
— Truman Capote, American author of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“The search is for the just word, the happy phrase, that will give expression to the thought, but somehow the thought itself is transfigured by the phrase when found.”
— Benjamin N. Cardozo, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

“Literary people are forever judging the quality of the mind by the turn of expression.”
— Frank Moore Colby, American encyclopedia editor and essayist

“Poetry: the best words in the best order.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, British poet

“Words are free born, and not the vassals of the gruff tyrants of prose to do their bidding only. They have the same right to dance and sing, as the dew drops have to sparkle, and the stars to shine.”
— Abraham Coles, author, in The Evangel

“One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.”
— Hart Crane, modern American poet

“Language is half art, half instinct.”
— Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species and creator of the theory of evolution

“How lovely are the wiles of words.”
— Emily Dickinson, prolific American poet

“To speak of ‘mere words’ is much like speaking of ‘mere dynamite.’”
— C. J. Ducasse, French-born professor of Philosophy at Brown University

“Words are the legs of the mind; they bear it about, carry it from point to point, bed it down at night, and keep it off the ground and out of the marsh and mists.”
— Richard Eder, literary critic

“Words are one of our chief means of adjusting to all the situations of life. The better control we have of our words, the more successful our adjustment will be.”
— Bergan Evans, literature professor and TV quiz show host

“All the fun’s in how you say a thing.”
— Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, please paint me the Gettysburg Address.”
— Sam Horn, author, POP! Stand Out In Any Crowd

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”
— Sam Horn, author, POP! Stand Out In Any Crowd

“Words that roll off the tongue stay in the brain.”
— Sam Horn, author, POP! Stand Out In Any Crowd

“Words are the hummingbirds of the imagination.”
— Elbert Hubbard, American writer, editor and printer

“A tune is more lasting than the song of birds. And a word is more lasting than the wealth of the world.”
— Irish Proverb

“In the beginning was the Word.”
— John 1: 1

“I am not so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven.”
— Samuel Johnson, English writer, lexicographer, critic, and conversationalist

“Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both, you are working with reality, material just as hard as wood.”
— Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian novelist, journalist, publisher and political activist

“Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.”
— Ezra Pound, American modernist poet

“Every misused word revenges itself forever upon a writer’s reputation.”
— Agnes Repplier, American essayist

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
— Tom Stoppard, English playwright

“The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
— Mark Twain, American author and wit

“A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words, the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.”
— Mark Twain, American author and wit

“My grandfather invented Cliff Notes. It all started back in 1912 … well, to make a long story short.”
— Steven Wright, American actor, writer and stand-up comedian

“What’s another word for Thesaurus?”
— Steven Wright, American actor, writer and stand-up comedian

“Words and words and words, how they gallop — how they lash their long manes and tails.”
— Virginia Woolf, British author
  • Play With Your Words

    Neurologists call it “the pleasure of the text,” the reward readers get from figuring out figurative language. (It can be quite a reward: If your wordplay is funny enough, your readers’ brains even deliver a little dose of dopamine. Nice!)

    That good feeling puts readers in an agreeable mood and may even open their minds to your message. In fact, one study found that ads using rhetorical techniques were 166% more likely to persuade readers and 229% more likely to be remembered than ads that did not.

    The good news is that wordplay doesn’t take talent. It doesn’t take creativity. Instead, it takes techniques, tricks and time.

    At New York creative writing workshopMaster the Art of the Storyteller — a two-day creative writing master class on Sept. 25-26 in New York — you’ll learn how to:

    • Go beyond twist of phrase: Learn to flip phrases; compress details; sub soundalikes; list, rhyme and twist — even coin new words.
    • Find online tools that do most of the work for you: Walk away with links to some of the best (free!) wordplay resources — as well as ideas for how to use them.
    • Polish your skills in our wordplay workout: Get “recipes” for creating 14 types of wordplay, from anagram to etymology to oxymoron. (And yes, that portmanteau does make your butt look smaller.)
    • Get inspired by some of the world’s most creative headlines.
    • Stop writing groaners: Learn techniques that let you come up with surprising lines — and leave the clichés to the hacks.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Master the Art of Storytelling Workshop in New York.


    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Make Your Copy More Creative workshop? Contact Ann directly.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


%d bloggers like this: