I have a soft spot for quizzes and word games. I’m sure a lot of writers do. Words are our stock in trade after all. Games like this help increase vocabulary and they can be good for maintaining a reasonable level of mental capacity.
I love the show Pointless and particularly enjoy the words rounds which come up now and again. Whether it is changing a letter in a four letter word to make a new word or working out words ending in certain letters, I’m happily giving these a good go.
Word to the wise here: playing games like Scrabble, Boggle etc help enormously here. You’re more likely to come up with an obscure word which would score nice and low on Pointless.
I’ve been a fan of Scrabble for decades. My late mother was a huge fan of the game and it was a regular entertainment at family events, Christmas, and the game was always packed to go on holiday with us. My fondest memories about her here was her absolute loathing for being stuck with the letter Q at the end of a game and her ability to come up with obscure two letter words which the rest of the family swore she made up.
I play a smartphone version of Scrabble, which has a huge advantage over the actual board game. No more missing tiles for a start! But I too now have learned a number of those obscure two letter words and play them out as regularly as I can! I’m sure Mum would be proud…
Oh and before you ask, I’m not making them up. They are in the dictionary! And yes I do all I can to get rid of the letter Q! (Qi is a good word to remember here – dictionary definition is the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine).
The advantage of the smartphone version is it is more easily portable and my opponent is effectively the computer (which is effectively what a smartphone resembles here). It means I can play alone. I often play the game to help me unwind and find it useful for that. I also love words anyway as you know so to play a word game for me is just win-win even if I lose! I can also set the level I play at with the online version so I can decide in advance how challenged, or otherwise, I want to be – a lot depends on the kind of day I’ve had!
I make a point of looking up the words I don’t know which my opponent comes up with – and boy does it! I think my mother would be proud of that! I haven’t found a use for any of them yet in my flash fiction but give me enough time…!
My late father liked his crosswords, something he inherited from his own father. I do have a go at these every now and again but am not a fan of the cryptic clues. This is mainly because I can only ever usually get two or three of them.
I do like wordsearches (and used to invent them for the church magazine when I was nowt but a lass in my teens. These were the days of the old stencils and Gestetner machine, with which my father used to produce said magazine. Oh how things have changed! One thing I definitely don’t miss from those days is the smell of the ink – it was vile and stank the kitchen out for several hours after the magazine was finished).
Arrow words can be a nice variant here and from time to time I have a go at the logic puzzles where you have to decipher clues and work out correct answers not just from what has been said in the clue but also from what has not been said. For example if you have three characters in a puzzle and you have been told one of them gets to an event after a certain time, you can take out the times that precede that because you’ve know the character cannot be there at those times. Logic puzzles are a great way to ensure you are paying attention to what is written!
Anagrams are a great way of improving your vocabulary too. There is such a thing as an anagram generator though I am not fond of these. Why? Because I like the words generated from the anagram word to actually make sense – they don’t always do so with these things.
I suspect pen, paper, and a dictionary are still the best tools of the trade here for making these things though admittedly nothing is going to beat a computer for speed here. Speed or grammatically correct English? It seems you can’t have both!
Over To You
I’ve also come across the game where you are given a word and asked to make as many words out of the letters of it as possible. Usually no plurals or nouns are allowed and often you have to come up with words which are three letters or more long. A good word for this is teacher. See how many you can get out of that.
I often take part in the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School annual quizzes. Teams are formed of at least four to a team. There is a general knowledge quiz and a literary one over the course of the week we’re there. Both quizzes are great fun. There is a lot of laughter and fun as teams discuss possible answers and come up with names for their team. I belong to the Prosecco Queens here by the way. No prizes for why that name was given. By the time the quizzes are done, we are usually glad of a drink!
Which one is the tougher quiz for a merry band of writers? The literary one of course! The range of questions is wide too – from the easy peasy ones to the obscure literary ones which are probably the staple of many a quiz elsewhere. This quiz quickly shows us all what we have read – and what we haven’t!
How many words did you get out of the word Teacher then? My answers:-
Teacher, teach, cheater, cheat, heater, heat, hater, hate, ate, tea, eat, rat, art, tar, tear, tare, chart, hart, heart, earth, cat, act, hat, the, reach, each – 26. Not bad going.
You start spotting word patterns incidentally when you play this kind of game. You soon realise you need a word which has at least two vowels in it and is reasonably long to give you the best combination chances.
So which are your favourite word games and what do you like about them? For the writers, have you found playing these has strengthened your own vocabulary?
Until next time… goodbye or should that be:-
Just a few of the computer generated anagrams from one word! You see what I mean about making grammatical sense? Definitely back to the pen and paper for me here!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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