Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Now With a Thesaurus

The contemporary romance that I’m currently plotting involves a news reporter, sent to cover a contentious political campaign somewhere in Kansas, or maybe it’s Missouri or Nebraska.  Wherever it is, there are a number of things I need to learn in order to figure this story out.  First and foremost, I need a good idea about the life and activities of a news reporter.

Luckily for me, I just so happen to work for a former journalist who has been (and I hope will continue to be) a great resource.  Supplementing that, I’ve been watching local and network news with an extra level of attention.  It has been quite educational, as well as a little disturbing   In a way it’s been kind of like pulling back the curtain to see how a magic trick works.

One point that has come out of all of this “research” is the power of individual words.  The slant of a story can be spun in completely different ways, just with a few changes in words.  The challenge is in finding the “right” words and to avoid using the same ones over and over again.  One newscaster recently commented, something along the lines of, “with all the investigation and scandal talk, we’ve really have to break out the thesaurus to avoid repeating ourselves.”

I can picture a scene where my news reporting heroine is working on a story and trying to find a fresh new word to avoid that “repeating.”  I’m thinking maybe the potential hero could help her with that; since they are adversaries that might be fun.  I’ll have to cogitate on that a bit, right after I indulge in a little Random Word Improv.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re heading off on a trip, knee-deep in your current manuscript, designing a cover for your new book, or just trying to make it to the end of another work-week, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  So pull up a chair, grab your favorite beverage, and let’s get writing.


Today’s random words are random synonyms, but the theme is up to you.  There will be bonus points for including a pineapple though.

pretty             beautiful           comely              handsome

fugitive          criminal            rogue                 swine

laugh              chuckle              giggle                 chortle

village            town                    suburb              hamlet

For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

Okay.  Are you ready?  Let’s sprint!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Ah, you’re back.  Kind of fun, right?  Can’t wait to see what you have come up with.

8 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Now With a Thesaurus

  1. A rogue pineapple fell off the moving cart, bounced off my boyfriends handsome head, knocking him out. As he fell over, he bumped the wedding cake out of my hands. It smashed into pieces. The laughing village kids swooped in to grab some.

    I knelt next to my boyfriend to see what the damage was and could I bring him around. He had a bid nasty bump. His eyes opened to my name calling, and blinked as if he were trying to focus on my face.

    I looked up for help. The criminal pulling the cart shot me a fugitive look over his shoulder as he ducked into an alleyway.

    “Angelica, my angel?” my boyfriend asked.

    My name’s Kiana.

  2. The camping lodge’s buffet was straight out of Olivia’s mother’s 1970s cookbooks. It was the pineapple-spiced ham appetizer that made her giggle out loud.

    Jack was right behind her in line, and murmured in her ear, “What’s so funny, darling? After the day you’ve had, I wasn’t expecting to hear you laugh until after dinner, at least.”

    “It’s this food. Who catered the affair? Betty Crocker? So suburban. Oooh, but I won’t say no to some Watergate salad,” and she scooped up a nice helping of pistachio pudding, whipped cream, marshmallows and canned pineapple. “Everything has pineapple in it.” She chuckled this time. “Maybe Don Ho catered this.”

    “Is it odd? I spent the 70s in Berlin, if I recall correctly, and all I remember is the currywurst on Tuesdays, and doner kebab on Fridays. My goodness, pineapple chicken. You are right, there is a theme.”

    “Yep. Oh, here’s some quiche.” Olivia choked on a chortle. “No, never mind. It’s got pineapple in it, too.”

    She looked at their trays – nothing on Jack’s, and a lonely mound of green nostalgia on her plate. She sighed.

    “Livvie, darling, let’s ditch the camp dinner tonight, and drive into town. Someone said the village bar, Hamlet’s Alibi, has some good food.”

    “I really am pretty hungry, Jack,” she said. And just like that, it was decided. They stuffed their plates into the dumbwaiter, and sneaked out through the kitchen to their car.


    The food fugitives snuck back into camp around 11:30 p.m. Hamlet’s Alibi had been just about what one would expect from a country Shakespeare bar. Comely maids intoning the drinks menu in suicidal tones while handsome rogues gave soliloquies and pullied what they said was ale, but Jack was quite sure it was watered-down horse piss. He hated to be crude, but sometimes American beer deserved scorn and vulgarities thrown at it. The food, on the other hand, was criminally good, and Jack wondered if he could order a week’s worth of take-out to stash in the cabin’s mini-fridge. Olivia had pooh-poohed the idea, and they’d bickered about it all the way back. Olivia really was a fine bickerer. He loved a woman with a quick tongue and her brains about her.

    “Oh, drat,” Olivia said. “I’ve left my hoodie in the lodge’s main hall.”

    “We’ll pick it up tomorrow,” Jack said. “I’ll keep you warm,” he said, hoping he sounded gallant and not lecherous.

    Olivia gave that wicked smile, the one she only used when something particularly naughty was to follow later in the evening. “I know you will. But it’ll just take a minute. I’ll need it for my run tomorrow morning.” Jack knew when to pick his battles, and handed her out of the car.

    He had expected that the lodge would be dark and quiet by now, but instead, they could hear the loud music and laughter before they could see the yellow glow of the windows. This wasn’t warm candle-light glow, but the slightly artificial shades of lemon . . . or, was it pineapple? Something was vaguely familiar . . . something like this had happened in Bohemia, only it had been cherries. He stopped Olivia and whispered in her ear, “Go back to the cabin and get The Kit. I’ll go peep in the windows, and I’ll meet you by the kitchen door. I think something has gone terribly wrong with the catering.”

    • LOL – I’m pretty sure I’ve been to one of those “pineapple-themed” buffets. Sounds just like the kind of things my mid-west relatives were known for. So glad Olivia and Jack made an appearance today. Would love to know exactly what happened in Bohemia with those cherries.

      Great job, Michaeline.

      • I have been quite blocked this year, and I’m starting to wonder if my Girls know what they are doing and I should just sit back and watch. This sprint used my characters from my WIP and the setting, but this little escapade is totally out of place with the story. All of us in my head are a little frustrated with it.

        (-: Still, it was fun imagining the Evil of the Pineapple. I might be able to write something about Bohemia; guess it depends on the words that show up next week! And if I get enough short stories put together, I’ll have a collection, lol.

  3. Busy, busy weekend, but while I was working I did some mental writing sprints. Here is the result.
    Cherubs and nymphs cavorted amongst plaster vines and garlands, while red velvet wall hangings clashed with lavish gold brocade furnishings and deep blue Turkey carpets. In pride of place over the massive fireplace hung a huge gilded pineapple, encircled by yet more cherubs, nymphs, vines, and garlands, with a few Egyptian gods thrown in for good measure. The entire room was an assault on the senses.

    Lady Westerbury and Mrs. Hayes, the vicar’s wife sipped their tea in silence.

    Had their corsets or proper upbringing allowed it, they’d have sighed and rolled their eyes at the truly appalling spectacle the room presented. Instead, no laugh, chuckle, giggle, or chortle escaped their judgemental lips. When they found their voices, they kept their opinions firmly hidden beneath their artificial smiles and proclaimed themselves delighted to welcome Lady Conroy to the village. “It’s so wonderful that the manor will finally be occupied again.”

    Lady Conroy’s pretty face maintained its pleasant expression as they extolled the virtues of the beautiful countryside surrounding her new home. Apparently the drawing room, which had been intentionally designed to be criminally ugly, wasn’t enough to scare them away.

    Pity that.

    She reached out a hand to rub the head of one of the dogs sitting beside her chair. Hamlet and Macbeth, both excellent judges of character, had been growling softly ever since the women arrived. She sympathized. She wished the ladies would get to the point and leave as well.

    “It was lovely of you to come and call,” she said when their flow of conversation finally trickled to a halt. She put her cup back on the tea tray, a clear signal that the visit had come to a close. Lady Westerbury looked over at Mrs. Hayes, who gave her a small nod.

    “Actually,” Lady Westerbury began, “we had a question for you.” At Lady Conroy’s patient, questioning look, she continued. “You may not be aware, but this manor house was in my family for generations. My great-grandfather had it built and it passed through several male members of the family before my youngest nephew inherited it a few years ago.”

    “He was a rake and a rogue,” Mrs. Hayes added in a low voice, “and a terrible gambler; though one hates to judge.”

    “Yes, and several months ago, after sustaining substantial gambling losses while other responsible gentlemen were over battling that monster Napoleon, the swine became a fugitive and the manor sold.”

    “What a loss for your family,” Lady Conroy said with a sympathetic look, wishing the ladies would get to the point.

    Lady Westerbury cleared her throat. “The thing is, there were some family letters left behind when my nephew made his precipitous flight out of the country. I was wondering if you might have come across them as you settled in here.”


    “Yes. They’re terribly unimportant, but they do have sentimental value. Might you have come across them?”

    As a matter of fact, Lady Conroy had indeed come across them, but the letters could hardly be described as terribly unimportant. She’d found them under a squeaky floorboard soon after they moved in and hadn’t been above reading one or two, just to see what they were about.
    Treason, intrigue, blackmail – that’s what they were about. It was no wonder Lady Westerbury was eager to get them back. Sadly for her, she had underestimated Lady Conroy.

    Wit and service to the crown had elevated her merchant father from obscurity to a place in the peerage. She would do what it took to make sure that place remained secure. She took after her father in wit and tenacity, and added a measure of cleverness as well. Successful as he was, her father did wind up at the end of the hangman’s noose. So careless of him. She had no intention of making the same mistake.

    The letters she found would be a good way to insure that, so Lady Westerbury was just going to have to wait a bit, and perhaps pay. It would take some careful thinking to determine just how the letters could be put to the best advantage.

    Meanwhile, she’d let the ladies squirm a bit, like a trout on a hook. After all, they’d come calling uninvited and interrupted her plans for the morning. They deserved it.

    • Oh, boy! Sounds like great fun! If the nephew comes back from abroad, and Lord Conroy turns out to be a manipulator and the vicar an Evil Vicar . . . country house madness! Love it! What a nice set-up.

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