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My Search for Great Adjectives by Kidd Wadsworth

August 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

Why was the book Dune by Frank Herbert so successful?

Most people would probably say world-building. Herbert created a compelling futuristic world of suspensor lamps, stillsuits and blue-eyed spice-drugged Fremen, and in it he placed the unassuming Paul Atreides, the character every one of us, male or female, identifies with. But let’s dig a deeper, let’s “get into the weeds” as one of my professors used to say. I’m talking adjectives here. And yes, Herbert was a master.

“The woman was a witch shadow—hair like matted spiderwebs, hooded ‘round darkness of features, eyes like glittering jewels.”


“witch shadow”

She’s more than evil, she’s powerful. Or is she? Witches, even in the future, only have the power we give them. So, who gave her power? Ut oh, it turns out his mother did. She mated with his father on command. But it gets worse. His mother disobeyed the witch.

“matted spiderwebs”

This phrase feeds on the first. Spiderwebs hide in corners and under chairs. Nearly transparent, they are easy to miss. These words aren’t about her hairstyle. Herbert is telling us that her web, and his mother’s disobedience, has caught something—and his name is Paul Atreides.

“glittering jewels”

I confess. I stole this phrase. Yup. I used it to describe the eyes of a dragon. It screams EVIL.

Herbert’s wonderful adjectives aren’t limited to his prose. Consider some of the titles of his books:

The Godmakers

I like this one because it plays on the well known “Kingmakers.” I guess things are different in the future. They don’t just make kings, they make gods.

Whipping Star

I’ve got read this book. What the devil is a “Whipping” star?

My husband is an Alabama boy. He grew up on the gulf coast. His senior year, he and three others went stag to homecoming. On the way home they drove down to the beach to park and watch the sun come up. Not yet legal, they nonetheless were well supplied with beer. They popped a few open, loosened their ties, kicked off their shoes . . .

Waves, coming in the open car windows, woke them up. Nope, the car didn’t make it out alive.

Often my adjectives are like the story you just read—painfully predictable. A great book—or a great poem—helps me splash my readers in the face with borrowed gems. I am also learning to link my adjectives as Herbert did with “witch”, “shadow”, and “spider-web”, to create a picture within a picture. We not only know what the woman looks like, we know she is of the dark, moves in the dark, and more dark is coming.

Happy Writing!

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Dreams in Writing

July 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,

I woke at two in the morning from a nightmare in which I was being hunted by an assassin. In the dream, desperate to get away, I hid on the third floor of an abandoned building. I remember looking out the dirty windows and seeing the assassin below in the parking lot looking up at me. He was tracking my cell phone.

I removed the sim card and, just for good measure, smashed the phone.

Two days later, he almost caught me hiding in a bakery. The owner, an old friend, came rushing into kitchen whispering, “The man you described just walked through the front door.” I ducked out the back and hid on the fire escape. As he left, I saw him glance up at the street cams.


I hitchhiked into the Indiana countryside. I figured I was safe among the endless fields of ten foot tall cornstalks. I was wrong. As I turned and ran, he shouted after me, “You’ll never get away, I’ve tapped into the satellites.”

That’s when I woke up. Everything was familiar: my bedroom, my sweetie softly breathing beside me. I wasn’t afraid; I was curious. How would I evade an assassin? I turned to that great fountain of wisdom, the TV. As my husband slept, I searched Netflix and Amazon Prime for a movie that would show me how to escape.

Click. Click. Click.

I clicked almost as many times as Indiana has ears of corn. Then I discovered a Bruce Lee movie! Yes! Surely, Bruce would know how to evade an assassin.

Guess what? Bruce Lee never evades. He never hides. He confronts his enemies. He turns to face them, looks them straight in the eye, and kicks butt.

That’s when I knew who the assassin was. My assassin was a family problem. Yes, I wanted to hide. And yes, I definitely wanted to smash my cell phone, but I couldn’t get away. I had to become Bruce Lee. I had to face my problem head on. I needed to look it in the eye—and kick butt.

So, why did I tell you this?

I recently read a fascinating book called Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language by John A. Sanford. I believe dreams can add depth and, strangely, genuineness to a story. But there’s a catch, and it’s a big one. You’ve got to get it right. Dreams follow certain patterns—unobvious patterns—that we all instinctively recognize. So, if you want to put a dream sequence in your story, read an authoritative book about dreams and common reoccurring images in dreams, first. Otherwise, the dream won’t read as “real.” Rather it will seem contrived, a way too convenient plot device, and pop the reader right out of the story.

BTW, I did actually dream about being hunted by an assassin, and I do think my subconscious was telling me to stop running away from my problems. I’m currently working on becoming Bruce Lee, but he’s a difficult act to follow.

Happy Writing!

Kidd Wadsworths Has Stories in the Following Anthologies

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Ten Gifts Friends Bring

June 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , ,

by Kidd Wadsworth

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Unsplash
  1. New Experiences.

    I was raised by two very economically savvy people. They had rules: always pay your credit card balance on time, spouses should have separate checking accounts, and never, I mean never, buy into a captive market. On one of our first dates, my soon-to-be-husband took me to a movie—and he bought popcorn! I was mortified. I got over it. Popcorn at movies is fantastic!
  2. The Joy of Shared Experiences.

    The world is so much more thrilling when you have someone beside you. Look! See that?
  3. Someone to listen to me.

    All of us desire to be known, to be understood. Since age 11, reoccurring, physical pain has been my unwelcome companion. There is no cure. Trust me, I’ve been to thousands of doctors. Most people aren’t interested in my pain. They sigh; they turn away; they don’t want to hear about it. But my friend quietly listens. My friend is my medicine.
  4. Someone to listen to.

    To hold someone else’s hand, to sit beside them in the hospital waiting room, to bring them soup, to drive them home and know deep inside no matter what they say you shouldn’t leave, to be there for someone else, is the rarest of gifts. With rough, hurtful hands this gift reshapes the listener into a more compassionate and loving person. I truly believe that when we walk in quiet companionship beside another during a troubling time, we begin to understand God.
  5. Pain.

    Yes, you read that right. Friends bring pain. They can be real jerks. Some of them betray us. And yes, sometimes when our friends hurt us too much, we must leave them behind. Pain is a part of every great friendship, because our friends must put up with us, too.
  6. Connections.

    Friends know people, all sorts of people, like good plumbers.
  7. Truth.

    Friends don’t hold back. They tell the truth. Darn it!
  8. Vacations.

    Friends are life’s built-in vacations; they are holidays living in my cell phone. Ten digits later I’m transported to another place and another time. Remember when…
  9. Permission to cheat.

    Hey, life is way too short to be serious all the time. Sometimes you need to call in sick. Sometimes that splurge purchase becomes a treasured keepsake. Sometimes joy is a grin and a wink and a, “I’ll split it with you.”
  10. Friends show us God.

    I was raised Protestant, converted to Catholicism, and am now regularly attending Quaker meetings. But in all my searching never have I never seen God so clearly as in the loving arms of a friend.

See the following books for more of Kidd’s stories

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May 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
Photo courtesy of Laura Chouette on Unsplash

by Kidd Wadsworth

These are my goto gems, the sentences that keep me writing, that whisper, “you can do better.”

From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling:

Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors.

Until I read that sentence, I never considered using the length of a character’s neck to reveal their social-climbing snobbery.

From Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis:

Here we go again. I felt like I was walking in my sleep as I followed Jerry back to the room where all the boys’ beds were jim-jammed together. This was the third foster home I was going to, and I’m used to packing up and leaving, but it still surprises me that there are always a few seconds, right after they tell you you’ve got to go, when my nose gets all runny and my throat gets all choky and my eyes get all sting-y. But the tears coming out doesn’t happen to me anymore, I don’t know when it first happened, but it seems like my eyes don’t cry no more.

Whenever I want to write with the voice of a child, I read Bud, Not Buddy. The last phrase, my eyes don’t cry no more, is pivotal. This little boy has been injured and wearied by a world full of uncaring adults who see him as nothing more than something to be packed up and shipped off. He could have been a frozen ham steak.

From Holes by Louis Sachar:

If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.

I almost stopped reading Holes when I read that sentence. It crushed me.

I think this next sentence by Jane Austen will forever take the prize as the best first sentence of any novel ever written. Not only is it funny, but it also completely captures the essence of Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

From The Road by Cormac McCarthy:

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.

What continues to fascinate me about these sentences are how they weave together two images: the first of a dying world and the second of a father desperately trying to save his son. Notice that you feel the love of the father for the boy after you read the first sentence, but it only as you read the next two sentences that the father’s desperation slams into you.

This next one I have added, although I don’t know who wrote it, simply because I love it.

I am, perhaps, stalling.

Finally, here is one of my own from a short story set in the Caribbean.

About her came the sounds nocturnal, some cooing, some clicking, the sea softly crashing, and pressing in the sticky night, so different from her air conditioned life.

Please comment with your favorite sentence. I’d love to read them.

Kidd Watsworth’s Books

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Too Much Juice

April 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
picture of hand with IV inserted

Too Much Juice
Kidd Wadsworth

I suppose there were opioids in my IV. I remember eating a three-foot-long, hot-pink centipede. I was a trifle worried. It was Lent. Does centipede count as meat?

While I chewed—centipedes are a might gristle-ly—there appeared by my bed three women. They “poofed” in; I thought them witches. Like a Hollywood wind machine was in the room blowing only on the three of them, their wild, flaming-orange hair and amethyst robes flowed out behind them.

They spoke, talking on top of each other, one starting before the other stopped.

My southern upbringing immediately identified them. Must be Yankees, I thought.

“Oy vey can you believe…,” said the first witch. 

“Without her hair cut…,” said the second.

“She came to the hospital, and there’s people everywhere…,” said the third.

“…and her hair…,” said the second.

“You can’t cut your hair?” said the third.

“I know a place…,” said the first.

This started such a discussion about which place.

I picked up the small hand mirror Mom left for me on my bedside table.

I do need a haircut.

“My tante Zelda…,” said the first witch.

“What?” said the second witch. “Your tante? Why she’d be better off having her hair cut by monkeys at the Bronx Zoo.”

And the third witch nodded, her bangle bracelets clinking, her crystal earrings casting rainbows on the ceiling.

“Do you have any mustard for my centipede?” I asked.

“Why yes,” said the third witch, pulling a jar from her pocket. “Grey Poupon?”

As I spread spicy brown mustard on my centipede, the first witch called her tante Zelda on the phone, “How’s next Wednesday, Dear?” she asked me.

I hesitated, trying to remember when I was scheduled to be discharged. “I don’t know.”

“You’ve got to go,” said the first witch. “You have some gray, no offense…”

To which the second witch said, “But not to Zelda. Anyone but Zelda.”

I’m a Sci Fi fan—live long and prosper, dude. One of my favorite TV shows features evil aliens with glowing eyes. As I struggled to remember my upcoming calendar, I looked out the door of my hospital room. In the room across the hall, I saw my doctor. He turned toward me—and his eyes glowed.

 “Oy vey, you don’t look so good…,” said the second witch.

I paused a bit of mustard covered centipede halfway to my mouth. As my doctor started walking across the hall to my room, the witches grabbed their light sabers. I dropped my fork and pressed the button on my IV.

Time for more juice.

Title Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

Kidd Wadsworth’s Books

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