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Vermont author Laura Williams McCaffrey, whose latest novel is Marked, published by Clarion.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to expand the vocabulary of the world about which you are writing. Laura Williams McCaffrey said in our interview that the fantastical vocabulary of the dystopian world of her novel Marked tends to be functional vocabulary. “Squatties” squat -- that’s what they do, she tells us. In considering the world you are perhaps creating in a piece of fiction, or poetry, or essay, even if you’re not working on a dystopian piece, think about the functional vocabulary of that place, time, or community. Are you writing about a faraway place? Might there be a vocabulary you could research and expand on, or a vocabulary that you should invent? Is there a workplace in your piece that might have specialized functional vocabulary? Perhaps an ad agency that has a code word to refer to an important client waiting in the lobby? Or maybe in your narrator’s family, are there words or expressions specific to their experience that you could add to amplify your reader’s understanding of their life together? Maybe the mother always shouts a certain phrase when she wants  the kids to turn out their lights and go to sleep. Maybe she shouts, “BEDTIME!!” at the top of her lungs. Or does she come to the door and barely whisper it, her tone full of consequences. 

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) Dreaming 1 - John Fink; 2) Filter - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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