Chortling our way onto the word watch list

Two people giggling (or chortling)
Photo: Marcus Jacobi. Adobe Stock images

Chortle: to laugh in a noisy, gleeful way (verb); a noisy, gleeful laugh (noun).


I’ve no idea which story the word came from, but all my characters are chortling at the moment.

I have two characters, known to their friends as the twins, not because they are twins but because they’ve been brought up together and are as close as many siblings. You know the types, they end each other’s sentences, seem to read each other’s minds. And in this case, they chortle a lot.

Yesterday, I got an idea for a new story.

What I normally do when I get a story idea is open a new blank document, write until I have the idea down on paper—or in electronic form in this case—save it to the ideas folder, and then go back to the current story I am writing. These ideas can run anything from half a page to thirty pages, but they’re usually somewhere between two and ten pages long.

Those ideas are the basis for future stories.

I finish up the idea and reread it before I go back to the story I am writing.

What’s this? This character chortles, too. Not once but twice, in two pages of story. Oh no.

Sadly, I’m a bit of a word chameleon when it comes to writing. Some might even call it a word thief. I’ll read a story, pick up on a word out of that story, and start using it. I remember back when I was reading Robin Hobb’s Fitz series one of my characters started smiling wolfishly. The first three books, when Nightshade was still around. I really struggled to not use the word. In the end Sherylyn put it on her weasel words list and edited it out in the second draft.

I suspect that’s what will happen here, too.

Weasel words are words that add nothing to a sentence. For example, if I wrote ‘weasel words are generally words that add nothing useful to a sentence’ there’s a couple of weasel words in there. Words like ‘generally’ and phrases like ‘some people say’ or ‘in my opinion’.

Our word list has expanded to be more than just this type of writing. It includes the ‘wrylies’ (‘he said, wryly’) and pet words (like ‘chortle’). I suppose, technically, it’s more of a watch-word list. (And yes, I deliberately weaselled there.)

Enough said. I’m going back to my chortling twins.

3 replies on “Chortling our way onto the word watch list”

You read all those horror stories where people take over other people’s bodies. I’ve told Sherylyn that if she comes across smirks in my writing, she’d best call in the exorcist, because it’s not really me writing. 🙂 (Karen, from the smirk-free zone)

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