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The Write Way

Friday 8 December 2000


I dare say that most of us will be making the odd list at some point in the next couple of weeks (very odd in some cases...) so here are some tips on how to use that essential component of every self-respecting list: the semi-colon. 

This little squiggle is used to separate several main statements in a long, involved sentence or list (see what I mean about this being an appropriate time to learn how to use the semi-colon? I don't know about you, but all the lists I make at this time of year seem to be long and involved.)

Day 1

Things to do today: buy Christmas cards; find address book; type up annual letter; write cards and post them.

Day 2

Things I must do today: go through recipe books and work out what to have for Christmas; order seafood and meats for Christmas dinner; find address book and finish writing cards.

Day 3

Things I absolutely have to do today: find that address book; find gifts I put in a safe place when I bought them on sale last July; check table linen and decorations.

Day 4

Things I need to do today: replace the table cloth that still has that red wine stain from last Christmas; toss the old tinsel and find the address book.

Day 5

Things I will do today: make phone calls.

Note that each list is preceded by a colon.

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You may know that I have a series of writing tutorials that are available from my site, I've decided to post part of this writing course on my site ... yes, I know ... generous to a fault, that's me.

You can check your knowledge, get a quick refresher course ... or just have a sticky-beak. 

This week's quiz:

Choose the word from the list that matches the definition below (Note - this week there are 14 words in the list but only 10 definitions ... well, can't make it too easy for you ...)

claustrophobic, uxorious, fraternise, regalia, regal, uxorial, acrophobic, pyromaniacal, incendiary, dipsomania, fraternal, agoraphobic, incendiary, arson

1. to socialise

2. full dress, with ribbons, insignia etc

3. having a compulsion to set fires

4. characteristic of being a wife

5. felony of burning property for profit

6. morbidly dreading wide-open spaces

7. alcoholism

8. excessively indulgent to one's wife

9. kingly, royal; splendid

10.person who sets fires for revenge

Remember, you can browse all past issues of the newsletter.


Last week's quiz:

Choose a word from the list to fill in the blanks in each sentence:

hyperactive, subliminal, percolate, hypertension, subversion, metabolism, subjugate, hyperventilate, subconscious, hyperbole,

1. Their efforts at SUBVERSION were eventually successful in toppling the government.

2. A tall tale uses HYPERBOLE, such as the giant size of Gulliver, for its effect.

3. Accident-prone people may have a SUBCONSCIOUS desire to draw attention to themselves.

4. The yoga instructor warned the class not to HYPERVENTILATE. during their breathing exercises.

5. Caesar hoped to SUBJUGATE all of Britain.

6. He was prescribed medicine for his HYPERTENSION., and told to take it easy.

7. Some advertisers use SUBLIMINAL messages to sell their clients' products.

8. A HYPERACTIVE imagination can turn molehills into mountains.

9. The water began to PERCOLATE through the coffee grounds, causing her to sigh with anticipation.

10.The smaller the animal is, the higher the rate of METABOLISM required to keep it alive.

I heard a version of this on the radio yesterday and giggled all the way through it ... so, here it is again. This is a bit like leaving a beer and piece of cake out for Santa, isn't it? It doesn't matter how many times you do it or how old you are ... it's still fun ...

The Twelve Days of Christmas

December 14th
Dearest John:
I went to the door today and the postman delivered a partridge
in a pear tree. What a delightful gift. I couldn't have been more

With dearest love and affection, Agnes
December 15th
Dearest John:
Today the postman brought your very sweet gift. Just imagine, two
turtle doves.... I'm absolutely delighted at your very thoughtful gift. They
are just adorable.
All my love, Agnes
December 16th
Dear John:
Oh, aren't you the extravagant one! Now I must protest. I don't
deserve such generosity. Three French hens.
They really are darling but I must're just too kind.
Love Agnes
December 17th
Today the postman delivered four calling birds. Now really! They are
beautiful, but don't you think enough is enough?
You're being too romantic.
Affectionately, Agnes
December 18th
Dearest John:
What a surprise! Today the postman delivered five golden rings. One
for each finger. You're just impossible, but I love it. Frankly,
John, all those squawking birds were beginning to get on my nerves.
All my love, Agnes
December 19th
Dear John:
When I opened the door there were actually six geese a-laying on
my front steps. So you're back to the birds again, huh?
Those geese are huge. Where will I ever keep them?
The neighbours are complaining and I can't sleep through the racket.
Cordially, Agnes
December 20th
What's with you and those bloody birds????

Seven swans a-swimming. What kind of warped joke is this?

There's bird poo all over the house and they never stop the racket. I'm a nervous wreck and I can't sleep all
night. IT'S NOT FUNNY.......So stop with the birds.
Sincerely, Agnes
December 21st
OK Buster:
I think I prefer the birds. What the hell am I going to do with eight maids a-milking? It's not enough with all those birds and eight maids a-milking, but they had to bring their own cows. There are dirty great cow pats all over the lawn and I can't move into my own house. Just lay off me.
December 22nd
Hey Psycho,
What are you? Some kind of sadist? Now there's nine pipers playing. And do they play... They've never stopped chasing those maids since they got here yesterday morning. The cows are upset and are stepping all over those screeching birds. No wonder they screech. What am I going to do? The neighbours have started a petition to evict me. You'll get yours.
December 23rd
You Rotten Sod,
Now there are ten ladies dancing - I don't know why I call those tramps ladies. They've been bonking those nine pipers all night long. Now the cows can't sleep and they've got diarrhoea. My living room is a river of manure. The commissioner of buildings has subpoenaed me to give cause why the building shouldn't be condemned. I'm getting the police onto you.

One who means it,

December 24th
Listen You Ratbag:
What's with the eleven lords a-leaping on those maids and aforementioned "ladies"? Some of those broads will never walk again. The pipers have started brawling with the eleven lords a-leaping. All 234 of the birds are dead. They have been trampled to death in the orgy. I hope you're satisfied, you rotten swine.
Your sworn enemy,

Miss Agnes McCallister
December 25th (From the law offices of I. Grindem and Lovitt)
Dear Sir:
This is to acknowledge your latest gift of twelve fiddlers fiddling, which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, Miss Agnes McCallister.
The destruction, of course, was total. All correspondence should come to our attention. If you should attempt to reach Miss McCallister at Happy Dale Sanitarium, the attendants have instructions to shoot you on sight.
With this letter, please find attached a warrant for your arrest.

Aah ... Christmas - there's nothing quite like it :)

If you need to write sales letters in a hurry, but  hate the thought of sitting at your keyboard trying to be creative ... here's the answer - just fill in the blanks! It really is as easy as that. Don't believe me? Take a look

Word of the week: Quink n. The common brant (a kind of goose). Conversation Stopper No. 331: "Did you know that the quink was the common brant?" (Hall of Superior Words)

You'll thank me for this one at some stage when you're trapped by the Bore from Hell at a party. 

Tautology of the week:  Urgent priority!

And for those social gatherings when you meet up with people you haven't seen since last Christmas, a Latin phrase:

Mellita/Comes, quando aliquem/aliquam in matrimonium accipies/duces? (Honey/Mate, when are you going to get married?) 

This is one that's guaranteed to stir the possum!





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