Michelle Wittle On Good Word Combinations

Michelle Wittle On, Writing Tips

Although I will admit that I do hate E.E.Cummings (yes, I even capitalize his name…that is how much I hate him), I will give him props for the way he manipulated language. In his poem, “In Just” he combined words like  “Mudilous” and “Puddlewonderful” to describe the world and what it looks like in the springtime. You won’t find these words in the dictionary, but to abstract their meaning, all you need to do is use your mind.


Recently I read the book, Dogrun by Arthur Nersesian. Many moons ago, I read another book by him. I don’t recall liking it or not liking it. I guess because it didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me, I never really sought out any more of his books. However, I was in the bookstore the other day (I know, me in a bookstore…how odd) and I saw this Dogrun. The back cover explains the book as one day a girl comes home and finds her boyfriend is dead watching TV. Sure, finding dead people may not be so uncommon, but the main character was only 29 and her boyfriend was in his thirties. Of course the book was set in New York in the East Village and I am so glad to report that this was not a chick lit book. There wasn’t a she gets published and lives happily ever after ending. The ending fit the book and I was happy that Nersesian stayed away from many cliché-ic subplots.

What I really admired about the book was the writing. The language and the metaphors used to be more specific. Like e.e. cummings (I am being nice now), Nersesian puts words together in a surprising refreshing way that really helps the reader get a feel for the action taking place. In one instance, Nersesian describes a busy signal as a “traffic jam”.

The book had many more wonder word choices, but of course, me being the lazy reader that I am, I didn’t highlight them. See, I do have this friend that I send my used books to and I didn’t want to highlight the book and mess it all up for her. Also, yes, I didn’t want to stop reading the book to go grab a highlighter.


I am going back to the bookstore to look for another one of his books. This time I will carry the highlighter over with me so I won’t miss out on the great nuggets of word combinations. I do suggest that you take yourself out and find this book as well. Read it and report back to me. Maybe we could make a list of all the cool phrases we find (sorry, that’s the eternal teacher in me talking).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s