Writing Workshop & Challenge #2

People have all sorts of things to say about the Latin being written these days. Sure enough, the vocabulary decisions I made for writing Challenge #1 were questioned almost immediately. While there’s no need to defend any of those decisions, it’s definitely worth looking at why those “core” 19 words were chosen and how they’re useful for storytelling. So before we get to Challenge #2, consider this a mini little writing workshop. Cui dono…? No one in particular. Let’s take a look at those words…

  • esse, habēre, velle, īre, placēre
  • et, quoque, quia, sed
  • ā/ab, ad, cum, ē/ex, in
  • ergō, iam, nōn, subitō, valdē

These are what I’ve found to be essential words, or at least a set of words that serve essential purposes. I’ve written a few novellas with all 19 of them, and my shortest book with the fewest words, Mārcus magulus, uses just 8 of them to tell the entire narrative beyond story-specific vocab.

Top Verbs
We have Terry Waltz to thank for the “super seven” concept of storytelling. These verbs cover so much ground it’s ridiculous. For Latin, it’s the “quaint quinque” you see up there. Sure, we know that est is often omitted, but it’s so basic that an attempt to write a story without it doesn’t make much sense. Besides, esse has a LOT of irregular and unrecognizable forms. Students benefit from exposure to all those forms. The other verbs set up conflicts (e.g., likes but doesn’t have, therefore wants and goes looking for it), and inform the reader of character intentions. It’s true that īre is often the first to go (jajaja, get it?), since motion isn’t always necessary. So for the most extreme sheltering, one trick is “and now they’re in ____.”

Unless your story is comprised entirely of simple sentences, you’re gonna need to connect them using these words. sed also sets up conflict (e.g., this happens, but…). Granted, a word like autem does the same, but (jajaja, get it?) I’m going with the more frequent word sed (17), instead of the less-so autem (54). The first to go rom this list for me is quoque, but I often find myself wanting to use it for comparisons quite a bit. Also (jajaja, get it?), you might go the Cambridge/Caesar, etc. route and use quod, but that doesn’t matter as much. Having a word used to explain things is really what’s useful here. In the FAQs for the first writing challenge I mentioned using the words I’ve established for all to have a common set of vocab to draw from, and then just replace with your own preferred ones. Swap out all the quias for quods. No one will stop you.

If you’ve got īre, you’re probably gonna need some of these. If not, you might get away with only using in or something. ā/ab also comes in handy to denote agent, and ad is particularly helpful for purpose when used with gerunds. cum comes in handy both for telling stories with more than one character, as well as some its temporal uses.

Much like quod for quia, you might use something like nunc for iam. I also use that word, too, for variety. But the point is that having adverbs of time come in handy. In extreme sheltering situations, they help convey events within the timeline (e.g., he does this, now he does that). ergō is similar to quia in terms of explanation, logic, and moving the narrative forward. subitō can and quite a bit more than we think, especially when reading as a class. The sense of urgency propels the reader. nōn is essential, and often doubles the input (e.g., she’s doesn’t do this, she does that). Of these, valdē is usually the first to go, with superlative forms covering adjectives (instead of esse + valdē), but it definitely comes in handy when levelling-up actions of story characters.

In short, while some might prefer slightly different words, the functions served by the “core” 19 above are essential for storytelling. Of course, stories wouldn’t amount to much without rich description. However, that description will be narrative-specific. Every story can have esse, sed, in, and nōn. That’s what makes them “core,” and that’s also why the challenges include the use of other words. I’ve tried writing stories with only the top verbs and function words. The result isn’t too great. Without further ado, here’s Challenge #2:

Write a short story in which a type of personified food is the main character using any of the following core verbs and function words:

  • esse, habēre, velle, īre, placēre
  • et, quoque, quia, sed
  • ā/ab, ad, cum, ē/ex, in
  • ergō, iam, nōn, subitō, valdē

For Challenge #2, there will be an overall unique word limit (excluding names, and different forms of words). Also, don’t forget about referring to the cognate list for vocab ideas.

BOSS level sheltering: no more than 10 words
CONFIDENT level sheltering: no more than 20 words
NOOB level sheltering: no more than 30 words

Here’s the link for Challenge #2. And here’s where I’ll put the stories once they start rolling in.

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