Procrastination

My form of procrastination is a random language generator.

It makes little paragraphs like this:

  • None of the nude cheese lets everything speak of her tryout. Some fiercely stunning pauses speak of her. She says, medium-size. He replies, collecting operatives. They say, mad.
  • I yearn for an oval, parental, and crimson layer. Azure housemothers can gladly take her overcast border. She says, corned. He replies, confusing those heretics. They say, confused.
  • They grin at something. Those customers have these discerning outlooks. She says, blorpy. He replies, rubbing the stuff. They say, nervous.

I wrote it in JavaScript:

http://ankiewicz.com/words/

I even made one for dirty language:

http://ankiewicz.com/words/foul.html

Feel free to use those sentences in your own writing projects.

I am a little obsessed with it. I strive to make it better and better. I want the output to be as natural-sounding as possible. It is satisfying when it spits out realistic-sounding sentences. It’s extremely satisfying when the grammar is correct. I spent hours getting the plurals of the nouns to match the verbs. I spent forever deciding whether or not a sentence needs an adjective, an adverb, or a prepositional phrase.

It will never produce a novel. If I spend half as much energy on my novel as I do on this thing, I’d be done by now. Yet, I am fascinated by the process of creating machine-generated sentences. I am drawn to it. Occasionally, from an unexpected and surprising turn of phrase, I get inspiration.

I find myself getting lost in sites like this, imagining how I would emulate such rules in my own language generator: http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjectives/order-of-adjectives/

What’s your form of procrastination?

Gestures, movements, and facial expressions

Gestures and facial expressions are a thorny topic. I tend to re-use the same gestures too frequently in my writing.

So, I’m trying to mix it up. My goal was to come up with a list that I could refer to when I needed a gesture or facial expression.

This is inspired by Bryn Donovan’s master lists for writers and the daily prompt Chuckle

Face

  • yawned
  • smelled
  • sniffed
  • sniffled
  • creases on her forehead deepened
  • furrowed her brows
  • wrinkles formed between her eyes
  • face became brighter and warmer
  • kissed
  • mouth twisted a bit
  • raised her eyebrows
  • raised an eyebrow
  • cocked an eyebrow
  • squealed
  • wondered
  • whispered
  • huffed
  • expression fell
  • expression grew sullen
  • expression hardened
  • expression grew flat
  • nodded
  • smiled a saccharine smile
  • chuckled
  • laughed
  • smiled
  • grinned
  • guffawed
  • cackled
  • burst into laughter
  • exploded with laughter
  • frowned
  • gasped
  • let out a deep breath
  • breathed deeply
  • sighed
  • exhaled sharply
  • inhaled sharply
  • grit her teeth
  • pursed her lips
  • bit her lip
  • bit her tongue
  • cringed
  • swallowed
  • drank
  • took a swig
  • smoked
  • took a drag of her cigarette
  • clenched her jaw
  • bit her thumbnail
  • bit her nails
  • wrinkled her nose
  • scrunched her nose
  • sneered
  • smirked
  • grimaced

Eyes/gaze

  • gaze followed the tiles of the dirty floor
  • gaze tracked
  • gave a look
  • looked down at her feet
  • looked at him
  • looked out the window
    • I try to avoid using look/looked/looking very often
  • narrowed her eyes
  • squinted
  • noticed
  • glared
  • stared
  • peered
  • watched
  • ogled
  • glanced down at her hands
  • glanced sidelong
  • glanced back
  • surveyed
  • inspected
  • took her in
  • with tears in her eyes
  • eyes welled up
  • eyes glistened with the beginning of tears
  • focused on her feet

Body

  • clenched her muscles
  • shivered
  • crouched
  • knelt
  • plopped down
  • hunched
  • her shoulders fell
  • slowly moved to a sitting position
  • stood up
  • sat intently reading
  • sat down
  • jumped up and down
  • ran into her bedroom
  • sank into her seat
  • sweated
  • shook
  • quivered
  • hugged
  • woke up mid-sentence
  • shrugged it off
  • shrugged
  • paced around
  • tapped her foot
  • bounced her knee
  • crossed her legs
  • folded her legs
  • crossed her arms
  • folded her arms
  • stood back
  • stood up
  • straightened up
  • tensed
  • a knot formed in her back
  • shuffled
  • ambled
  • slowly made her way
  • walked
  • trotted
  • pranced
  • traipsed
  • perambulated

Hands

  • shook his hand
  • tapped the side of her nose
  • rubbed her temples
  • pushed her bangs away from her eyes
  • pushed her fingers through abundant curls
  • pushed her braid behind her shoulders
  • adjusted her braids
  • twisted a lock of hair around her finger
  • let her hair unfurl
  • twisted a ring around her finger
  • held up her hand
  • splayed her fingers
  • splayed her legs
  • put her hand on her stomach
  • drew the sharpest weapon she had
  • bounced her fists
  • formed a fist
  • interlaced her fingers
  • grabbed his hand
  • pointed
  • released his hand
  • made the motion of waves with her hands
  • touched his face
  • flipped through a book
  • shuffled the deck
  • examined her fingernails
  • reached out
  • hands turned with palms towards her
  • put his hand on her shoulder
  • twirled the pen
  • clicked the pen
  • high-fived
  • scratched her droopy cheeks
  • clutched a bottle
  • put on gloves
  • took off gloves
  • rubbed her forehead
  • rubbed the nape of her neck
  • rubbed her eyes
  • rubbed the back of her neck
  • fiddled with her hands
  • squeezed her hand
  • squeezed her shoulder
  • clasped her hands
  • clapped
  • picked it up
  • put it down
  • grabbed her hand
  • plucked an eyebrow
  • pulled a thread
  • pulled a cuticle
  • punched a pillow
  • drummed her fingers
  • squeezed the spot between her thumb and forefinger
  • put her hands on her hips
  • rested her hand on her hip

Do you have any others to add to the list?

Color lists for writers

My novel features an artist. As such there are many descriptions of colors, paintings, and art. Here is my multi-purpose list of colors, gleaned from HTML color names, stones/jewels, flowers, foods, and pigments/paints.

Basic colors:

  • black
  • blue
  • brown
  • gray
  • green
  • orange
  • pink
  • purple
  • red
  • white
  • yellow

Shades of black:

  • dark of the moon
  • charcoal
  • coal black
  • ebony
  • graphite
  • gunmetal
  • mars black
  • obsidian
  • smoke
  • slate gray
  • steel

Shades of blue/purple:

  • aubergine
  • amethyst
  • azure
  • baby blue
  • cerulean
  • cobalt
  • coral
  • cornflower blue
  • cyan
  • blue topaz
  • denim
  • eggplant
  • hyacynth
  • indigo
  • jade
  • lapis lazuli
  • lavendar
  • midnight blue
  • navy blue
  • palatinate blue
  • peacock blue
  • periwinkle
  • plum
  • powder blue
  • pthalo blue
  • robin’s egg blue
  • royal blue
  • sapphire
  • sky blue
  • slate blue
  • steel blue
  • ultramarine
  • violet

Shades of brown:

  • almond
  • amber
  • beige
  • bourbon
  • burnt sienna
  • burnt umber
  • chestnut
  • chocolate
  • cocoa
  • coffee
  • cognac
  • copper
  • dirty
  • eggshell
  • flesh
  • hazel
  • hazelnut
  • leather
  • mink
  • oatmeal
  • raw sienna
  • russet
  • sandy
  • tan
  • taupe
  • tawny
  • tea
  • walnut
  • whiskey

Shades of green:

  • aqua
  • aquamarine
  • army green
  • beryl
  • chartreuse
  • emerald
  • forest green
  • grass green
  • jade
  • lime
  • olive
  • patina
  • pear
  • teal
  • turquoise

Shades of pink:

  • amarinth
  • cerise
  • hot pink
  • fuchsia
  • peach
  • magenta
  • mauve
  • orchid
  • rose

Shades of red:

  • apple
  • alizarin crimson
  • blood red
  • brick red
  • burgundy
  • cadmium red
  • crimson
  • fire engine red
  • maroon
  • rouge
  • ruby
  • rust
  • scarlet
  • vermillion

Shades of white:

  • alabaster
  • cream
  • diamond
  • fingernail
  • ivory
  • lace
  • milk
  • pearl
  • silver
  • titanium
  • tooth
  • whites of the eye

Shades of yellow:

  • antimony
  • cadmium
  • champagne
  • cornsilk
  • gold
  • goldenrod
  • lemon
  • tooth yellow

Color modifiers:

  • cloudy
  • hazy
  • milky
  • neon
  • opaque
  • stained glass
  • translucent
  • transparent

In response to daily prompt Opaque.

Avid writer not avid reader

I am an avid writer but not an avid reader. I spend much of my evenings and weekends (when not at work) posting to blogs or working on my novel. I’ve read that to be a good writer you should read, read, read. I have lots of books on Kindle and in paper format but I have a habit of starting them and not finishing them. I’m the queen of half-finished books.

Some of the half-finished books on my Kindle or nightstand:

  • The Scarpetta Factor by Patrica Kornwell
  • Geek Love By Katherine Dunn (I read it so long ago that I consider this a fresh read)
  • Until I find You by John Irving
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir by Nick Flynn
  • Finding Hanna by John R Kess
  • By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer
  • The Judas Goat by Robert Parker
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King

I do spend lots of time reading blogs and web articles. I would say that almost counts except that it’s a reflection of my short attention span. Anything longer than 5000 words and it’s TL;DR (too long, didn’t read).

I used to speed through books. Umberto Eco. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Thomas Hardy. Chaucer. When I moved to poetry I lost my tolerance for long novels. William Carlos Williams ruined me for reading novels.

Maybe I haven’t found the right novels to capture my interest. Many years ago (almost twenty-five years ago!) my favorite novel was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I read it so long ago that it feels as though I’m reading it for the first time. The last book I really loved and read all the way through in recent history was Stiff by Mary Roach, but even that was a few years back. I read a few others by Mary Roach. Packing for Mars was quite good.

Since then my reading has atrophied. I might read a chapter before forgetting about a book. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an easy read or a denser, higher quality read. Stephen King is easy reading and I still can’t get past the first few chapters before neglecting it.

Does anyone else have this problem? Do you even consider it a problem? Are you an avid reader? Tell me what books you like best.

Avid