By David Flin
We’ve all done it. We’ve used a similar word to the one we intended, creating a different meaning. We’ve misspelt a word, and the misspelling creates a different meaning. Usually the result is nonsensical, and easily corrected. Sometimes, however, they can be truly creative.
They can be amusing, and they can also inspire ideas. Oh, you want examples. I thought you’d never ask.
Moral/Morale. This is one that always amuses me. You see where an author talks about an army having high moral. This always brings an image to me, of soldiers devoted to law-abiding, wholesome activities, scrupulously honest and fair-minded, and not easily led astray into unlawful or immoral behaviour. As you might imagine, this is not always the case.
“Moral was high as the army prepared to advance.”
I picture soldiers preparing for battle by turning down licentious offers from available young ladies, demonstrating their high morals.
Night/Knight. A Night of the Round Table. A simple misspelling of a title, and ideas flood forward. It could be a romance, of various possible styles. It could be a ghost story, or an eve of battle piece, or dozens of other possibilities.
One can play around with the Night Knight. Sir Gawaine, in some sources, had his strength increase as the sun rose, and he was strongest at noon. The Night Knight could easily be something like that, but in reverse, one whose strength increases as light decreases.
Heir/Hare/Hair. You can have fun with ideas here. I’m reasonably confident Watership Down arose when Richard Adams thought about the Hare of the Land.
Of course, one can then play around with Richard Adams and Douglas Adams, famous for Watership Down and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy respectively. Confusing those two could lead to some interesting ideas.
Witch/Watch We all remember that classic film Watch on the Rhine. Twist that slightly, and see what ideas flow from Witch on the Rhine. There’s the obvious of a coven of magicians leading an underground resistance to the Germans during WW2; maybe the Witch in question is one of the three Rhine maidens, one of Woglinde, Wellgunde, or Flosshilde; maybe the Witch is the name of one of the Rhine barges on its way to carry out Operation Sealion.
Gun/Gnu I saw this once in a film guide, where the advert was for a film called: “The Gnus of Navarone.” I was very disappointed when it turned out that the film wasn’t actually about Allied Commandos coming to neutralise the Nazi offensive animal breeding programme on the island of Navarone. I plan to write that story.
Mind you, I also plan to write The Gnu Fight at the OK Corral.
Teas/Tease. You will understand my puzzlement at a sign I saw in a remarkably upmarket hotel hosting a conference offering “Afternoon Tease.” The possibilities were endless. Unfortunately, I had to attend the conference, so I never got to find out anything more about exactly what was being offered.
Which is probably just as well.
Albedo/Libido. There is a difference. Look them up if you’re not sure. When you read the phrase in an SF novel about how you can make a planet more visible from a distance by increasing its libido, well, it takes a particularly unimaginative person not to have unfortunate images resulting from that phrase.
Why? The whole point of little pieces of inspiration (or, if you prefer, little peaces of inspiration) is to get the creative juices (deuces) flowing. They won’t give you a complete story; just little hints for ideas that can give you a new angle (angel) on things.
It’s quite (quiet) simple really (rally).
David Flin is the author of the SLP books How to Write Alternate History, Six East End Boys, Tales from Section D, The Return of King Arthur and Other Alternate Myths, and Bring Me My Bow and the Editor of Comedy through the (P)Ages