Bill Alive
Bill Alive
Writer. Thinker. Frequent breather.
Mar 28, 2018 3 min read

Does your spell checker hate you?

So, do you ever feel that your spell checker is like…


Of course, yes, I’ll freely admit that the Squiggly Red Line saves my literary neck all the time. In fact, I just managed to mistype “squiggly”.

But what about this whole ideal of perfect spelling being moderated by a computer? That’s another question entirely.

Especially when you’re telling a story. Especially as told by a chatty, effervescent guy like Pete Villette.

Let’s face it: making up words is fun.

Shakespeare did it, right? The guy made up hundreds of words. Or at least … he was the first to write them down.

For all we know, many of those “new” words might just have been how real people were talking in his day. Maybe his characters would have sounded wrong if they didn’t make up words.

That’s how I feel about Pete, anyway. He’s an energetic young dude, fresh out of college, and he kicks off the very first paragraph in Murder Feels Awful with excited enclitics:

So I’m just going to start typing, because I can’t decide where to start. The dead woman flying the glider? Or when Mark first read my mind? Or maybe that crazy creeptastic first funeral?

Alas, my spell checker doesn’t care for creeptastic.

Ironically, it’s also giving the Red Squiggle treatment to enclitics. (Shows what you know, Picky Pants.)

An enclitic, as everyone knows (and I, of course, did not just have to look up to make sure), is a tasty grammatical bit that you can snap onto another word.

For instance: take creep, add the Super Official Enclitic -tastic, and you’re good to go — creep + tastic.

Enclitics have a rich pedigree, and they adorn some of our most respectable verbiage, from schola + stic to endow + ment to respect + able itself.

That said … have you noticed how many people can’t get through a paragraph these days without more … creative … enclitic snappage?

Pete is pretty much addicted. Scrolling through my manuscript for Murder Feels Awful, I see snippet after snippet where the Red Squiggle still glares in angry silent protest, long after the book is freaking published.

Here are some random bits from around the tale:

In the deepest shade, beside huge boulders, the air was cold and damp and tombish.

Ceci and I shared a glance of mutual what-the-hellitude, then whipped around to see.

The sky still spread clear and corpseless above the trees.

“But how is that a clue?”

“No idea,” he said, with morose glummage.

The geeks were arrayed in geekly glory around a long folding table, with laptops terrible and mighty to behold.

On the flip side, you can also have fun chopping off a typical ending. At one point, Pete feels a “queasy trembling” in his chest and gut. A few moments later …

“What vibe?” I said, struggling to forget my quease.

I can’t let that one pass without a hat tip to P. G. Wodehouse. You know the Jeeves and Wooster stories? The hapless rich bachelor Bertie Wooster and his perfect butler Jeeves who always saves the day? They’d be worth reading purely for the sheer exultation Wodehouse takes in his verbal dicing. The young Bertie tells his tales with breathless enthusiasm, and he mangles his English with hilarious and effortless aplomb.

Fortunately, we don’t need to leave the fun to masters like Wodehouse.

How about you? What are your favorite made-up words? Comment and tell us — I’d love to add to my repertoire.

Thanks! Talk soon!

And may your spell checker never do this …

Infinite loop...

Okay, yes, that’s the grammar checker. Whatever. 🙂

Happy reading!

[Bill Alive]

Bill Alive