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Inside Lingo Tags: writing


Has this ever happened to you? You’re typing away, describing a scene, and something like this comes out.

“As the lane beside him ended, the car behind him sped up to pass him in the ever-diminishing space beside him.”

Okay, that just toppled the flow of the go.

How about, “If Victoria had not made sure everyone was stopped in the intersection before going through it, everyone in the car would have died.”

Wait, what?  That’s just way too many words.

It probably happens most when your characters are adventuring in an arena you don’t typically write about.  All of a sudden, that inside language every trade, profession, hobby and lifestyle has is knowledge you need RIGHT NOW!

Today I thought I’d blog about words and phrases commonly used in driving.  As a driving instructor, I use them every day.  So might you, as a driver yourself.  But I bet there’s a few you’d not thought of.

So here’s a bit of inside lingo you might use in your stories.

Instead of the first example how about  “As the lane beside him ended, the car behind him sped up to shoot the gap.

And for the second example let’s try “If she’d not secured her intersection before proceeding through, everyone would have died.

Here’s some more:

The poorly distributed load teetered dangerously to one side.

He was boxed in, with no out on either side of him.

He was good at scanning for both actual and potential hazards.

He rolled past the two fighting dogs, cautiously covering his brake and giving them extra room.

She signaled her intention to move over a lane to give him time to follow.

He created space for the merging truck, allowing him to pull in front of him.

She considered the road and traffic conditions before setting out.

“He has excellent hazard awareness, I’d be surprised if it was his fault.”

A good driver is a predictable driver, one who matches the flow of traffic, facilitates merging and lane changing, maintains space cushions and always signals their intentions.

Grimly, she determined the closing rate of the oncoming vehicle would not allow her time to pull back.

It was his superior slow speed maneuvers, reversing, positioning in narrow spots and turning in tight spaces that won him the Waste Remover Award of 2018.

The child stepped into Logan’s path of travel forcing him to make an evasive maneuver onto the gravel shoulder.

Her eye-lead time was severely restricted, leaving her little time to determine her options.

Without space to maneuver she was destined to collide with the object.

It was a matter of managing space and time, and she knew she was up to the task.

As the car spun out of control, Mr. Webb’s words from driving 101 came to her, clear as the rain on her windshield. “When hydroplaning, avoid using the pedals or the steering. Wait for the vehicle to re-establish traction before applying either one.”

The winding roads and hills severely restricted her sightline. The dense shrubbery and trees on either side of the road created continuous blind spots for her. 

For drivers who hyper-focus or have tunnel vision, it is our job to teach them how to expand their scope of awareness.

Understanding sequential priority of focus is essential for new drivers. Without this, they will be looking at the wrong things at the wrong time.

She drove past him in idle speed, insuring he saw her in the 1967 Mustang.

He proceeded through his turn as if that was what he’d intended all along.

She sped through the semi’s no-zones, paranoid he would move over without seeing her.

It helped alleviate her anxiety to repeat, pace the space” over and over when merging onto the freeway. 

And a few straight-up definitions:

Pinch points: Areas where traffic condenses, such as where lanes end, intersections, and on/off ramps.

Point of No Return: The PONR is that point beyond which we can no longer safely stop for the light.

Traction patch – the amount of tire touching the ground, about the length of a hand.

Space cushion: The distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Also called “following distance.

Spatial reasoning: The ability to judge distances and the amount of space around your vehicle.

Staying staggered: Maintaining an empty space on either side in traffic


This Week on Writers Abroad
Category: Site News

This week on WA

After reading the Writing Goals for Jo, Bruce, Nicola, Sue and Vanessa this thought popped into my mind; I walk with giants. I know they are goals, but I also know that many of them will be achieved. As a member of WA, It’s a wonderful opportunity to watch members struggle and then achieve.  There are no magical leaps to success in this business, and seeing the work in progress is a true inspiration

Jo’s Six Word Challenge is attracting participants like a magnet – what a great idea to start the morning journaling each day.  Nothing too overwhelming but enough to open any doors of resistance.  Wonderful work Debbie, Vanessa, Lesley and Jill.

Writing challenges for January are overwhelming! Nowadays it’s about picking and choosing, I can remember years where finding enough competitions to enter was the problem.  Thank you Lesley, Angela, Alyson, Jo and Sue for posting in this forum.

A very tempting Muse Sue has posted for this week.  Several unusual ideas, one I’m tempted to try is to take an old short story and replace every “the” with a different word.  WHAT??? How will that work out? Beautiful photos and a word list that has  a couple I’ll have to look up. 

Bruce posted on Works in Progress the first and second chapters of his book “Medium Rare”.  He’s received several insightful comments from Alyson and Angela already.

If you have any special requests for the spring Planner let Sue know now.  You can do this under Forums>General>The Notice Board.

And that’s about it for the week.  If I’ve left out anything or gotten something wrong please let me know in the comments.  Best of luck to us all for 2018!

A Microscopic Theory of Time

Recently the word prompt for the Ad Hoc competition was “Time”.  I enjoy researching prompt words before I decide what to write about. I look at the definitions and the synonyms, scan the Internet for obscure usages and applications of the word, and then think for a few days on how I’d like to use it in the flash fiction. 

It’s like spending days of window-shopping before a purchase.

When I volunteered to write the blog this week I decided to choose time as a theme for the sake of expediency.  As I scrolled through the Google hits nothing caught my attention until I saw an article that summed up the current philosophies of time as seen by physicists.  

And down the rabbit hole I went.

In some of their theories the past and present are interchangeable, in others, they co-exist, but in most, the future is a done deal.  One of the most recent, and by far my favorite, is the theory that the future is unknown and determined by present events.

Not a new idea with the general populace, but this time, quantum physicists think they have the evidence to prove it.

In the article “Time’s Arrow Traced to Quantum Source”, the author, Natalie Wolchover, uses hot coffee to explain the idea.  It’s all about when the pure elemental particles of the steam encounter the pure elemental particles of the air.   These then mix and become entangled components of a new probability before equalizing with their surroundings, and becoming something different.

Why describe these combinations of elements a probability? Because this theory is built on the idea that nature, and the future, is inherently uncertain.

I wondered, what kind of air particles did the coffee steam mix with?  Maybe a bacon scent, or light particles from a patch of sun. But, who knows? In my sister’s kitchen, she has a boa snake in an open aquarium.  Maybe the steam particles are inhaled by the mouse cowering in the corner of the cage, which triggers it to leap out.  Then, while the breakfast eaters scream and jump the baby crawls out of his highchair, falls, and breaks his arm.

Which brings in child services, which breaks up the marriage, or seals it, or, gives the child a unique pitching arm that eventually lands him a job as a professional baseball player.

And all this because, unbeknownst to us, the mouse spent its first few months of life in a lab that tested the effect of caffeine on mammals. Their discovery? That the mere inhalation of coffee can release enough adrenalin in a mouse to jump ten times it’s height.

As a side note, my guess would be the project ran out of funds or they were busted for animal cruelty and had to get rid of the evidence quickly.  Why else would the poor thing end up at a pet store as snake food?

Consider the possibility a mouse really did jump out of a snake cage and the last story line came true.  People, and storytellers in particular, like to go back and connect the dots to explain how the child grew up to pitch in the World Series.  Some science would call this a whimsical desire to make order in a world of chaos that is created by random and unrelated events.

But what if the idea that the future really is determined by the present and can be shown in equations?

Physicists proposing this theorem explain how the intermingling of events begins on a microscopic level, and they have data to back it.  The evidence is not yet bullet-proof, but apparently there’s enough to rattle the cages of “the future has already happened” folks.  

Telling stories from this perspective might begin like this:

Once upon a time the particles of Jessica, now equalized and in the new, pure state described as Jessica, met the pure state known as Logan.  They were instantly attracted to one another. Logan sensed Jessica’s pheromones and absorbed these through his nose.  Jessica saw Logan’s red, curly hair and absorbed this with the photons entering her eyes.   These particles entangled with their hosts’ particles, then reached a state of equilibrium, which created new, pure forms of Jessica and Logan.

Perhaps the rest of the story would go on to say that although they never saw one another again, their new, changed forms prompted Logan to marry a woman who wore the same perfume as Jessica. Jessica married a man with red hair so she could have red-haired babies. All the while using words like entanglement and particles and so on, of course.

In the end, we’ll probably tell our stories the same way we always have, with the same innate understanding that the future is built from the present and that one thing leads to another. 

With one slight change-up. I think my stories will never be quite the same.  I foresee a new pure form created by my story particles entangling with particles drifting from my (regrettably smug) attitude of I-told-you-so.  


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