Let’s face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
- How bodies decompose
- Wilderness survival skills
- Mob mentality
- Other cultures
- What it takes for a human to die in a given situation
- Common tropes in your genre
- Average weather for your setting
Robert Hass, “Interrupted Meditation”
The Top 10 Best Opening Lines Of Novels
1. Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood, 1998
“Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.”
2. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953
“It was a pleasure to burn.”
3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936
“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”
4. The Gunslinger, Stephen King, 1982
“The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”
5. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
6. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
“Lolita. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”
7. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”
8. Peter and Wendy, J. M. Barrie, 1911
“All children, except one, grow up.”
9. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
10. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, 1969
“All this happened, more or less.”
I don’t need a valentine, I need Valentino
Clovelly in Devon, England
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