The Burnt Monk Journal

Where Good Stories Go to Ash

Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer

Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer

10 Words That Started Out as Errors

10 Words That Started Out as Errors

by Arika Okrent,
November 14

Language change is driven by mistakes. If every generation of children perfectly learned what they heard spoken around them, then languages would be exact duplicates of themselves, never changing over the centuries. Clearly, this isn’t what happens. As you can see from this list from, words have very often been formed by mishearings, inversion of sounds, dropping and adding of sounds, and other all-too-human errors.


a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem

The Medieval Latin source for this word, algorismus, is actually a very bad transliteration of the name of the Arab mathematician who helped introduce higher math to the western world. His surname was al-Khwarizmi which in turn is derived from a place name.


projectiles to be fired from a gun

It is common to misanalyze an article that precedes a word as if it were part of that word. Here the French phrase la munition was misanalyzed so the "a" of the article became part of the word, becoming l’ammunition.


a team representing a college or university

This originated as versity, a short form of university, until the vowel changed for unknown reasons. The cause may be mysterious, but there are numerous examples that are similar, including varmint from vermin, showing the change can go in the opposite direction as well.


press firmly

Sometimes changes in words are influenced by the (unconscious) sense that words that mean the same should sound similar. That’s what linguists think happened with squeeze. There is a form quease, from an Old English root, but linguists figure the initial "s" came about from speakers drawing an analogy between this word and all the other similar words that begin with "squ-": squash and squat most obviously, but also perhaps squirm and squelch.


to walk with a lofty proud gait, often in an attempt to impress others

This word is actually a mistake-ridden rendering of the French chassé "gliding step" from a verb that means "to chase". The "sh" and "s" sounds got shuffled from the original.


a localized and violently destructive windstorm occurring over land characterized by a funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground

This word comes from Spanish for "thunderstorm," tronada. The inversion of two sounds, in this case the "r" and the "o," is a well-documented process known as metathesis, which is historically also responsible for turning bridd into bird, beorht into bright, and helping turn a luchorpan into a leprechaun, among many others.


come open suddenly and violently, as if from internal pressure

This is another clear instance of metathesis, because the Proto-Germanic root is brest. At some point, the "r" sound jumped ahead in the word and the spelling followed suit.


spice made from the dried fleshy covering of the nutmeg seed

The origin here is from French macis. The "s" was mistaken for a plural marker and dropped, something that has also happened historically to cherry (from Greek kerasos), riddle (from Old English rædels), and recently to kudos, giving kudo.


hand tool for boring holes

The original name of the tool was a nauger, but it was misheard as an auger, so the word lost its initial "n." Linguists call this process "misanalysis."


a group of many islands in a large body of water

The etymology of archipelago seems like it should be from Greek arkhi meaning "chief" and pelagos "sea," suggesting the importance of a sea with so many islands. The problem is that this form never occurs in ancient Greek, and the modern form is actually borrowed from Italian, with the intended meaning being "the Aegean Sea." If that’s the case, then the archi- in archipelago is actually a corrupted version of Aigaion, which is how you say "Aegean" in Greek.

To see more words that originated as errors, and to add them to your vocabulary-learning program, see the full list at

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Incredible Photos of a Melting Ice Hotel

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What Causes "Old Book Smell"?

10 Reasons Why Writers Should Watch TV; Part I

Quote of the Day

I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

In writing Treasure Island and his many other tales of adventure, Robert Louis Stevenson (born November 13, 1850) drew on his own extensive travels. Born in Scotland, the writer lived his last years on a Samoan island where he was dubbed Tusitala, Samoan for “teller of tales.”

Lost & Found

jess_alizzi coffee cup

Deleting photos is like throwing out old clothes; painful and unnecessary*

View original post 241 more words

Best Writing Tools for Inspired Authors

Best Writing Tools for Inspired Authors | June 18

If you are a writer who is still stuck with the conventional ways of creating novels, then you are missing out on a great world of opportunities that can enhance your inspiration and make you more effective at what you do.

The choice of online writing tools, websites, and apps is so overwhelming that can easily turn you back to the typewriter, which is why we decided to list the best tools and save you from losing time.

1. Write or Die

No, you won’t die if you don’t write, but the entire work you have completed will be lost if you don’t reach the word goal. If the kamikaze mode seems too drastic for a start, you can begin with an easier mode that will help you work your way towards a greater challenge.

2. Lift

You don’t have to wish for your own writing coach that will yell in order to remind you to go back to work. Lift is a great way to set goals and reach them by getting motivated by the friendly community.

3. WordCounter

Do you need to know the number of words and symbols in a text? Try this new word count tool by essay writing service NinjaEssays.

4. Rescue Time

If you spend way too much time looking at recipes or cute kittens online, the report you get by Rescue Time will come as a reality hit. Once you become more conscious about your time-wasting habits, it will be easier for you to control them.

5. Freedom

The logic of using this app is simple: it prevents you from using the Internet for as long as you tell it to. Although the Internet is a source of great tools that can help you become a better writer, it’s also the biggest distraction that you have to control.

6. Index Cards

Since the effectiveness of index cards has been proven many times, there is no need to neglect them for the sake of revolutionary concept. However, that doesn’t stop us from making them even cooler by using them through this iPhone or iPad app.

7. Dragon Dictation

Don’t you wish you had a personal typist who would make your job faster and easier? There is no need to hire one; you can use Dragon Dictation’s voice recognition feature for that purpose. All you need to do is start speaking and the story will come to life in front of your eyes.

8. Thesaurus App

No writer can deny the necessity of the good old thesaurus in their arsenal of tools. With this app, you can easily find synonyms of your habit words and change them to make your style more interesting.

9. Scrivener

This tool makes the entire process of writing a novel simpler and more manageable. You can use Scrivener to collect important information, write down your ideas and complete the first draft with surprising speed.

10. Essay Minions

When you get stuck in the middle of the writing process because you have to conduct a research associated to your idea, you can get through that stage much faster if you hire an experienced expert at Essay Minions. A holder of an MA or PhD degree in the suitable area of study will provide you with all information you need in order to make your story believable.

You can also hire a professional editor at the same website and save yourself from a lot of frustration.

11. iA Writer

This writing tool will hide all distractions and enable you to write in a completely clean interface. The blank page you see will keep you disciplined and focused on your work.

12. PaperHelper

PaperHelper will split the computer screen and display your research sources on one side and your manuscript on the other. This will save you from maneuvering among different tabs and windows, so you will be able to type much faster.

13. Coffitivity

Some writers love working in a silent room, but others are distracted by the empty, lifeless space. If you belong to the second group, then Coffitivity will make you feel like home. The tool replicates a coffee shop environment with all its sounds that inspires your creative juices.

You will surprise with your potential when you start using the right tools

Being a writer is just as frustrating as it’s enjoyable at times. There is no need to keep ignoring the inventions of modern technology when there is so much you can benefit from. Start exploring the world of opportunities today and you’ll immediately become more appreciative of your profession.

20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Writers

Found here: The Write Life – Helping writers create, connect and earn


20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Writers

20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Writers

by Carrie Smith,
March 13

Pinterest isn’t just a place for jewelry, clothing or landscape images; it can also help inspire and promote your work as a writer.

If you want to spice up your book, find resources on editing, or organize your writing space, check out these 20 Pinterest boards for writers.

1. Jody Hedlund’s How to Edit board

With everything from infographics, to quotes, to articles and checklists, this colorful resource will help you find the tips you need to clean up your copy.

2. Writer’s Relief’s Getting Help With Your Writing board

Need help developing your novel’s character? Want to find a writing mentor? This board has everything you need to improve your writing, including ways to spice up your stories.

3. Kansas City Public Library’s Book-Inspired Crafts board

Whoever said books are boring never saw a Pinterest board like this! Check out these amazing book-inspired crafts and DIY ideas for any type of book lover.

4. Book Riot’s Cover Lovin’ board

Create inspiring and eye-catching book covers for your upcoming novel or ebook with this vast collection of book cover designs.

5. NaNoWriMo’s Writerly Inspiration board

Make your creative mark with Pins on ways to be more inspired, motivational quotes, writing prompts and more.

6. Your Writer Platform’s Book Promotion and Publicity board

Writers often have to use social media (whether they like it or not!) to spread the word about their work. This board shares tons of resources for promoting, marketing and selling your latest book.

7. Levo League’s Productivity and Organization board

Every writer wants to make their lives easier! From mobile apps, to office organization ideas, to creating weekly checklists, you’ll find something to ensure your writing is a priority.

8. Create as Folk’s Publish a Book board

If you’re looking to publish a book, this board has you covered. It includes tips on marketing your book, getting reviews, establishing a platform and more.

9. Greatist’s Relax and Recover board

As a writer it’s important to nourish your body as well as your mind. Use these ideas to relax, recover and renew your imagination.

10. The Stacey Harris’ Fonts to Love board

Looking for that perfect font to use in your next novel, or cover design? This board has tons of fantastic fonts to choose from.

11. Grammarly’s General English board

The English language is a funny thing, and it contradicts itself a lot. You’ll get a few laughs from reading these Pins, along with a reminder to always proofread your work!

12. Lis Dingjan’s Laptop Cafes board

This board will help you easily find workspaces and cafes that provide the wifi access you need to be productive, no matter where you are in the world.

13. Amanda Patterson’s Interesting Authors board

Learn from the great authors of the past, including facts about their lives and the quotes that made them famous.

14. Bethany Moore’s Music for Writing board

Every writing session should include some motivating music to get you in the mood and keep you on task. It also helps to focus on the music and not the words, which is what this board provides.

15. The Freelancer’s Union Healthy Freelance Living board

Being a successful freelancer is a skill that requires hard work and a positive mindset. Use these Pins to start your day off right and help your motivation last throughout the day.

16. Kayla Gain’s For the Love of Books and Music board

Not all good writing comes from books; many incredible quotes are written as lyrics, poems and screenplays. This board has a great mix of both!

17. Joanna Penn’s Pens, Ink and Notebooks board

For those of us who enjoy putting pen to paper, this board has it all. With these unique pens and journals, your scribbles will be sure to inspire.

18. K.M. Weiland’s The Write Stuff board

For the writing life you’re gonna need the Write Stuff, and this board delivers just that. With ideas for the perfect writing gift and essential food for writing, you’ll find a little bit of everything.

19. The Writing Whisperer’s Art Journaling board

Journaling and doodling can unleash your innovation and remove that frustrating writer’s block. So go ahead and document your writing in a colorful way!

20. Kait Roth’s Books to Read board

With tons of new reads to choose from and beautiful bookshelf “porn” you’ll never run out of ingenuity or ideas for your writing work.

Do you have a favorite writing-related Pinterest board?

Evernote for Simplified, Distraction-Free Writing

Evernote for Simplified, Distraction-Free Writing

by Taylor Pipes,
November 6

Sometimes, you just want to focus on the story at hand.

For writers seeking a simple, distraction-free writing experience, look no further than the newly redesigned Evernote for Web.

When you write, the interface fades away to showcase your ideas, thoughts, and more importantly, the words. When you need it, Evernote for Web beautifully re-emerges. All the familiar Evernote tools, including formatting options, notebooks, search, and tags are a click away.

Here are 7 tips to getting the most mileage from your writing with Evernote for Web.

1. Perfect for writing
Do you prefer a sparse writing environment? Now, you can take your notes full-screen and power through writing surrounded by ample white space. Perfect for short bursts of writing, creating outlines, managing to-do lists, and arranging plot elements. It’s the perfect way to write down ideas and take notes without distractions.

2. Control your viewpoint
Evernote for Web was designed to provide a clean, beautiful workspace. You can utilize a split-screen where your notes, notebooks, shortcuts, and tags are visible to the left. Your current note is accessible to the right.

3. Formatting
Focus on writing, but highlighting select text will give you the option to format your copy. Click to change the font, size, and styles.

4. Categorize and tag on the fly
Add tags to your writing or categorize your note without leaving your writing space.

5. Add photos
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, you’d need fifty to reach your NaNoWriMo goal. If only it were that easy. But, you can still help illustrate your ideas and provide a powerful visual narrative to your story. Simply drag photos right into your writing space, or upload them from the menu using the paperclip icon.

6. Search
One of the strongest features of Evernote is the ability to comprehensively and quickly search your content. With Evernote for Web, you can quickly look for content related to your story.

7. Manage deadlines
Whether you’re writing a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWrimo, or hacking through your college thesis, you’re bound to deal with deadlines. The writing experience in Evernote for Web easily connects you to Reminders to keep you on task.

The Details

This is a dramatic re-imagining of Evernote Web that’s been six years in the making. It’s no longer a second choice, but rather a destination for the creative mind. It’s the workspace you’ll rely on when you simply need to work. No distractions. No interruptions. Just focus.

Just like our previous web client, this update is available now for free to Evernote users. You can switch into an early beta today by going into settings on Evernote Web. Take a look, but we recommend that you use it only if you’re comfortable with beta software. The complete version is coming later this fall.

Evernote, for the win

If you’re competing in NaNoWriMo, or you want to model your writing plan in a similar fashion,

Now, with an integration by FastPencil, authors have a full-fledged tool to create and distribute a book in Evernote, from start to publish. FastPencil is proud to support WriMos by providing 40% off of their distribution package (use promo code NNWM40 at checkout. This offer is valid thru November 30, 2014). You can easily upload your Evernote notes into FastPencil. Learn more.

Evernote Premium will be given to all NaNoWriMo winners.

What’s your key to writing with the new Evernote for Web? Share your story in the comments.

10 short stories written in a single tweet

10 short stories written in a single tweet

by MJ Franklin,
November 5 07:00 AM

Great literature doesn’t always appear in novel format. Sometimes it can be found in a single tweet.

Master wordsmith and October’s MashableReads author Margaret Atwood knows the value that can be found in 140 characters or less. Atwood often uses Twitter to augment her prolific writing, taking to the social network to engage with fans, discuss issues that are important to her and chat about books.

See also: 18 Twitter Short Stories That Prove Tweets Can Be Literary Too

Inspired by Atwood, her active use of Twitter and her new short story collection Stone Mattress, we asked Mashable readers to write their own short story in a single tweet. Submissions ranged from haunting meditations on life to playful Halloween tales. Check out some of our favorites below.


Her purse on Saturday: Cell. NYU alumni pen. Spearmint.
Her purse on Sunday: Cell. NYU alumni pen. Receipt for $49.99. 1 pill. #MashReads

— Alissa Green (@AlissaGreen) October 22, 2014

She was a fugitive from her own past. The best of breed. Each day, she managed to escape 86,400 times #MashReads

— lindsayannnnn (@lindsayannnnn) October 21, 2014

Then life felt as gentle as it was beautiful. A one-man boat, a great ocean, blood, a fleeting consciousness. Finally, happiness. #MashReads

— Jonathan Terry (@JonsMind) October 21, 2014

The bees knew it first. Then the ice. Then the Trees. Then all the world’s mothers. #MashReads

— Tess Clare (@TessClare78) October 20, 2014

To him, there was nothing worse than someone he had once loved denying his existence. She knew this, as they passed in the street #MashReads

— Joe Stevenson (@JobeyJoe11) October 24, 2014


TBT to a moment once known. Familiar faces revealing fading memories – thrown back to an innocence long forgotten #MashReads

— Matt Livingstone (@mlivingstone07) October 22, 2014

He was on a journey of self discovery, a place he had never ventured before, it was his turn to bare it, he opened up the diaper. #MashReads

— AlayneLangford (@AlayneLangford) October 24, 2014

She looked up into the cloudy night. Clears skies hold no tales. Her life would change. Time to buy an umbrella or get wet. #MashReads

— Pat (@lumsays) October 26, 2014

Obstructing plans held too long to move East, read Ulysses & pursue writing was a little pink line on the white bathroom tile #MashReads

— DeenaD (@Deena_Do) October 28, 2014

His heartbeat flitters, and he exhales his last breath. His eyes flicker open, new eyes, green this time. Life begins again. #MashReads

— Kasim Kaey (@kasimkaey) October 20, 2014

Want more great book recommendations from Mashable? Join MashableReads, Mashable’s social book club. You’ll have the chance to win free copies of new novels, and participate in conversations with various authors.

BONUS: Authors in Conversation with MashableReads

See Video:


Whether you just need a little inspiration or you want to build a board about your story, don’t forget about Pinterest as a writing tool. When you need a break, or you’re stuck on an element of your story, sometimes exploring the visual makes a big difference.

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