Blog

Instagram For Authors

(Non-Business Account Edition)

Advertisements

Let’s get the important thing out of the way first: Instagram is only one of many (So many. Too many. Brain-fogging amounts of many) social media platforms for authors. If you’re already on Twitter, or Facebook, etcetera, et al, and you’re happy with it you don’t have to add Instagram. Really.

instant regret gif
No! GO away social media! I don’t need another account! Don’t chase me with another one! No!

As for me and my author brand* we like Instagram.

(*haha just kidding. No one would stick around after they saw the iron go into the fire.)

What Does Instagram Have?

Pew Research findings on social media for 2016 says Instagram has:

  • Around 1/3 of all online (internet using) adults
  • especially high numbers of young adult users (18-29) and a good number of 30-49 year olds. Not very many adults aged 50+
  • 38% of total users are female (26% men)
  • Somewhere around 500 million users
  • Users tend to be “daily active users” which means a high level of engagement

Great, so What Does That Mean?

That means that if you’re writing books 18-49 year old people (mostly female people) want to read, Instagram is a good choice for you. Yes, the statistics skew heavily towards YA, but that doesn’t preclude other kinds of books. There are plenty of users on Instagram and they tend to be very active. Speaking from my own experience, once you fall in love with this format you use it constantly and feel loyal to it.

How do I use it?

The Instagram app is available on smartphones. You can also access it from a computer at instagram.com although you can’t add or edit any pictures that way.

Use your phone number or an email address to sign up for a free account. It’s effortless to incorporate if you already have a smartphone. (If you don’t, consider that Instagram might not be for you.)

  • Username: You will select/create a personal name that people use to find you. This should go without saying, but use the name you want associated with you as an author. Use your pen name if you have one and that’s the name you write under the most.
  • Bio: Instagram limits you to 150 characters and ONE website link per bio. Use it wisely. Make sure your profile is “public” and don’t post personal things on this account. It’s super easy to add another account if you want a private one.
  • Business accounts get cool stuff like traffic analytics and more allowed web links, plus they’re alway testing out new features. I want to get confident as a personal user before I try that. If and when I switch to a business account I’ll write up an article for you about how it goes.
Screenshot_2017-10-11-09-21-28
Screenshot off my phone of my user profile with my bio and one link. This is from an android phone, not an Apple, but Instagram will look very similar on either.

Got your profile set up? Awesome. Now you start taking pictures. Open your smartphone camera, point, and click. Then open up Instagram. Click on that big square with the plus sign on it (in the bottom middle of my picture, above). The pictures in your phone gallery will appear in the app for you to choose one to play around with. Add filters, fade, blur, even color it. Then post it for everyone on Instagram to enjoy. Find other Instagram accounts to follow, and collect followers to your account.

*Good to know: you can share your picture to multiple social media sites from Instagram. You have the option to either a) automatically post to the sites you select for every picture (this is called syncing) b) select a site to share to on a case-by-case basis or c) not share to any other sites at all. You control this through your settings, which can be reached by tapping on that little three vertical dot symbol that you see at the top right corner of the above picture.

Facebook and Instagram are buddies and do well, while Twitter hates Instagram and poops on its lawn. It only puts up a tiny little web-link thing, not your cool pic.*

Screenshot_2017-10-11-09-22-54
One of my pretty pictures, with likes, caption and hashtags.

 

How do I use this visual site, as a Wordy Words Writer Person?

Twitter has a huge, devoted following that exchange verbal thrust and parry all day accompanied by witty memes. Perfect for writers. Instagram is all about the pictures. At first, it seems counter-intuitive but it turns out pictures are GREAT for books. Observe:

Screenshot_2017-10-11-09-25-30

Books! Nothing but books and booky things. Instagram is FULL of users who love, read, celebrate and promote books. The picture above happens to come from a user called canxdancexreads (If I were on Instagram I would tag her by adding @ before her name) who takes gorgeous pictures of all her favorite books. She has what’s affectionately called a “bookstagram” account.

Here is a beginning list of how you can use Instagram:

  • Post neat pictures of your favorite books
  • Post pictures of your own books (but don’t go nuts and spam! One or two posts a day gets you better traffic analytics on Instagram anyway.)
  • Post anything bookish: libraries, pretty bookmarks, literary locations, cozy warm drinks, fandom merchandise, the list is really endless.
  • Find and follow bookstagrammers. My favorites are canxdancexreads, books.bags.burgers, and mischief_muggle but there are thousands of choices. The best part? Bookstagrammers are always promoting other grammers so you are always finding new, wonderful accounts to follow.
  • Your favorite authors may be on there for you to follow.
  • Feature the hell out of your gorgeous book covers. That’s why you wanted show-stopping cover art in the first place, to catch eyeballs!
  • Publishers are on Instagram, including the Big 5 of course, promoting new releases, announcing giveaways, featuring their authors, all kinds of good stuff. Learn from their methods for when it’s your turn to market. In the future I will have another post on Marketing for Instagram.
  • Find book merchandise accounts, like fandomflairpins (enamel pins for nerds) mugglelibrarycandles (book themed scented candles) or inkandwonder.designs (fandom related wooden bookmarks). There are thousands of options here too and if you build up a relationship with a store you could, for example, buy their stuff in bulk for your reader swag.
  • Share little pieces of you: the best part of your city, your cute pets, the great bread you just baked. Let your readers get to know you.
  • Share your process: pictures of what inspired your WIP, tiny excerpts, funny memes about writing. pictures of your books and swag on display.
  • Use hashtags to get found by more people (I’ll do a separate post on this.)
  • Include your followers: have them vote for a character name, host giveaways, ask for photos themed around your books and then share their amazing entries, basically anything you’re comfortable doing that will make them feel welcome and wanted.
  • Learn how to create and post “stories” (Instagram’s answer to Snapchat that I will do yet another separate post on.)

The best part about the site is how one account leads you to a hundred others. It’s a very organic process that builds off of relationships. People are generous with their time, tags, and follows.  Here you can find your niche, dig in, and bloom. If you’re already a very visual, artistic person, Instagram will be a natural platform for you.

If all of that sounds too haphazard and vague for you (eat me, I’m organic!) that’s fine. The beauty of social media is that there’s a site for everyone.

On the other hand, if wandering down exciting footpaths with other feral bookworms sounds like your thing, come join, and let me know so I can follow you!

 

Featured image via stocksnap.io & Jessica Ruscello

Whose Line is it Anyway? Dialogue Tags

Dialogue Tags vs. Action Beats: The Great Showdown

He said, she said, they said, we all said. Especially in fiction, there is a lot of saying going on. Good dialogue can save you from telling, can demonstrate everything about your character’s personality and traits, can be funny, move the plot along, or explain backstory. All at the same time. Dialogue is the best!

burn gif
SO much going on here! Movies get lots to work with because they’re visual. Authors have to work HARDER to get all of it across with dialogue and action beats.

Dialogue is also a trap. A big fat Sarlacc pit waiting in the middle of the WIP desert to digest you slowly. One of the oh-so-easy ways to go wrong here is when you get caught in the web of dialogue tags. While you struggle amongst the strands of endless options, growing weaker as you wait for the vicious sting, action beats are standing at a safe distance yelling, “Use me! I’m here! Hello? I’m showing, not telling!”

Learn to love action in your dialogue. Learn to hate the overuse of dialogue tags. We are writing fiction, my lovelies. Pretty much anything goes, as long as the dialogue flows.

So. What are dialogue tags? Make with the clicks to read this good succinct post on the basics, by The Creative Penn. To narrow it down to a sentence; dialogue tags are anything tagged on to the end of dialogue to indicate that person is speaking.

Most of the time your characters say something, it will be said. It can also be begged, shouted, screamed, hissed, whispered, called, snarled, cried, replied, implored, protested, and any other of a million different ways to indicate emotion while talking. Available advice, which is based on solid evidence, opines that you should use “said” most of  the time. It’s an invisible word to readers. They take it as granted that your characters will be saying something and skim right over that word, leaving the actions and the emotions to impress in the memory. “Said” is a good tag to use, especially when you want to focus on showing.

To back that up, here is a post on keeping it simple from Writer’s Digest. But! (There is definitely a but.) You can’t use “said” in every damn sentence. There’s simple, and then there’s mind-numbingly boring. It’s a good idea to kick that boring “said” up a notch with any of the other tags that express what your characters are going through. For example, use said for two tags and then add in another -ed word. Then back to said for a couple more, then a reaction -ed. Vary it up.

An even better way to include some good showing? Action.

C.S. Larkin has a good post on this over at Live Write Thrive. Action beats (also called narrative beats) are a great way to fill the empty space left around boring repetitions of “said” or “replied”. They make your writing visual, a scene playing out in the front of your reader’s mind. You can’t replace dialogue tags entirely, that would get really confusing as to who is speaking. But you can sprinkle them generously throughout the scene and they do a lot of different things for you.

While your characters are talking, how are they feeling? Add that in to your dialogue with some action tags as they react to what’s being said.

What are they thinking? Change their expressions as they listen.

Where are they? Add that in as they interact with their environment by moving, sitting, standing, touching things, picking them up or throwing them. All of those are action tags.

We’ll finish off with some examples of this from popular authors:

“Are you really Harry Potter?” Ron blurted out.

Harry nodded.

“Oh-well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George’s jokes,” said Ron. “And have you really got–you know . . .” He pointed at Harry’s forehead.

Harry pulled back his bangs to show the lightning scar. Ron stared. 

“So that’s where You-Know-Who–?”

“Yes,” said Harry. “But I can’t remember it.”

–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling.

J.K. uses a lot of -ed dialogue tags in her writing. That’s her personal style. But in this scene we also see action, and two uses of “said.” From this first conversation with Ron we also get a good sense of his personality (he speaks without thinking and can be tactless sometimes.)

“Now I want to make love with you more than I want to go on breathing.”

“To make love,” C.C. repeated steadily. “But you don’t love me.”

“I don’t know anything about love. I care for you.” He walked back to touch a hand to her face. “Maybe that could be enough.”

She studied him, realizing he didn’t have any idea that he was breaking an already shattered heart. “It might be, for a day or a week or a month. But you were right about me, Trent. I expect more. I deserve more.”

–Courting Catherine, Nora Roberts

In this emotionally charged scene the main characters are at an impasse. One is in love, one thinks love is something to sell greeting cards and refuses to trust enough to try. All of that is obvious from their words and actions. And the word “said” isn’t used once. Nora Roberts is a great resource to study if you’d like to see how this is done.

Good luck with your dialogue! I hope this post has enough resources to get you well on your way.

 

Featured image via stocksnap.io and Bonnie Kittle

Accidental Personality

Containing an awkward author photo and Calvin & Hobbes.

It’s the first Wednesday in October, which means it’s IWSG day! Visit their site! Use the hashtag #IWSG. Write up a storm. Tweet all the things. Dive into that second draft. Embrace your full-on neurotic tendencies, because the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is here for you.

The optional question for October is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

As always, go visit the co-hosts and enjoy their posts on the topic. The hosts this month are: Olga Godim, Jennifer HawesTamara Narayan & Chemist Ken

August 2017 026

The ISWG newsletter challenged us to include a picture of ourselves with their logo or swag this month too. I’m not sure if they tied that in to the “personal” question on purpose, or if it’s just a happy accident. Either way, here is my IWSG photo. I guess we could call this my alter-ego, Should-be-editing-but-reading-comics-instead-Girl.

To answer the question: Yes. Yes to everything. Every one of my characters gets something from me intentionally. Usually something small, like their favorite color. The way I picture my characters they are distinct, whole people. A lot of them is not like me at all. But I want them to have something real, something another person would empathize with, a reason I would want to be their friend in real life. It’s writing what I know, in a way.

insecure-writers-support-group-badge

Accidentally, I’m sure a lot of my world view, beliefs, and culture are bleeding into my characters. I try to watch for that and edit it, but I know it squeaks through. There’s been a lot of focus on diversity in books lately and that’s a good thing. (We Need Diverse Books.org has been super helpful, and The Ripped Bodice just came out with this report on the state of diversity in Romance publishing. Spoiler alert: not many authors have a skin color other than white right now.)

It has also made me aware of how hard I need to work to make sure my books are reflecting the diverse reality we live in. It seems like a minefield sometimes, especially when the conversation gets into authenticity and appropriation. So I’m just trying my best to research, never assume, and remember that not everyone in my books should come from a background like mine.

How about you? What parts of your character come from your reality?

 

Contest Time! Win a Free Editing Service

Reblogged this on SEWhite Author

A Writer's Path

It’s contest time everyone!

Lopt & Cropt Editing has generously donated two prizes for this contest. One is win-able by A Writer’s Path Writers Club members and the other by anyone.

Lopt & Cropt Editing is Sarah Pesce, a freelance editor who works with authors ready to reach their publishing happily ever-afters. She loves helping writers – and their stories – achieve their full potential. Visit for more info on her services.

Here are the prizes:

View original post 247 more words

Flaming Crashes of the Gaming Variety: Many Points Lost

Or; Thoughts I have while working on the 2nd/3rd/multiple draft

In case you think you are the only author who starts out the fixing drafts thinking, “What idiot wrote this pile of manure?”

“Ohhhh. Yeah. That idiot was me.”

I found This post from author Alyssa MacKay about her thoughts on reading her first draft and it inspired me to buckle down and do this. For fun, and to keep myself from starting to believe that every single word is crap that must be deleted, I started treating it like a game. Good things get me points, mistakes take points away. There is no goal, scoreboard, prize, or satisfaction.

points dont matter
2nd draft: Whose Line Is It Anyway? style

Here, for you, are the 100% honest thoughts.

  1. I’ve re-written this opening sentence so many times that I’m sick of looking at it. +5 points
  2. I hope it makes a good hook? -5 points for subjective hoping
  3. OK, this seems mysterious enough to make me want to read on. +5
  4. Dun dun dun. Foreshadowing. +5
  5. “It reminded her”=telling. Plus I started a sentence with a pronoun. Damn it. -10 points
  6. World building. Beta readers said there wasn’t enough world building in the first few pages. -10 points
  7. Every other freaking sentence has a “, and” in it. – 10 points for using the same sentence structure for every sentence. Bad me. Bad.
  8. Uggh this is all flashback. But the world has to be built, or the beta readers will remind me again that they don’t know what’s going on.  -100 points for a rock and +100 points for a hard place
  9. There’s a mix of dialogue and action. I’m going to feel good about that until someone shoots me down. +10 points
  10. That was kinda funny. 5 points to Gryffindor.
  11. Should there be a comma there? -5 points
  12. I’m not sure 3rd person limited is the right POV. -5 points
  13. I don’t know anything about commas. -5 points
  14. But I’m damn sure not writing anything in 1st person. Uggh I’m so tired of everything being in 1st person. We have to be near the end of this trend. +5 points for going my own way
  15. I hate commas. -5 points
  16. Good chapter ending hook. 10 points to Hufflepuff
  17. Enough with the commas! Who do I think I am, Charles Dickens? -10 Victorian punctuation points
  18. You know what, Microsoft Word? I don’t need your snarky editorial comments on my comma usage. I know I have a problem. -10 Word points
  19. I already know what’s coming, so it’s impossible for me to say if this is page-turner material. I think that means another round of beta reading. +5 points for bravery
  20. Bahaha. A little dry wit. +15
  21. Holy giant wall of paragraph, Batman! Let’s chop that up a little. -10 points
  22. Should probably delete that exposition. It’s telling. -10 points
  23. Ha, I like that description. 10 points for Ravenclaw
  24. I’m still in love with this ending. I will fight anyone who tries to tell me different. +20 points to Slytherin
  25. Damn it you’re supposed to take advice from beta readers and not be all stuck up about killing your darlings. -20 points to Slytherin
  26. Wait, my beta readers have liked the ending too. Every single one. So ha! +20 points to Slytherin again. In fact, House Cup for Slytherin

Final Score: Minus several million points for good sense. Plus another round of beta reading.

 

 

Featured image via Stocksnap.io and Sergei Soloviev

 

Working Hard, or Hardly Working

I’m sorry for the lack of posting the last two weeks. Not even an otter meme can save me.

Partly I’ve been avoiding the Internet because every time I turn it on some new horror leaps out, like Pennywise on speed. “Hurricane? LOL” says Mother Nature. “Try FOUR hurricanes, back to back. Oh, and two deadly earthquakes in two weeks. Haha, maybe I’ll throw in a plague of locusts and some bloody acid rain, for fun.” Thanks, Ma.

Also, the North Korean dictator just threatened to tame our “mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire” which, you know, I get the sentiment there. He is definitely mentally deranged, as well as a dotard. Calling it like they see it. But I’m not on board with the taming with fire part. Could we start by training with some warm drinks, maybe? Avoid the whole raining of doom and fire and radioactive decay?

Another part of it is that I’m deep in the process of drafts for a finished manuscript, covered in sticky notes with grammar and pacing tips, sucking down caffeine and only breaking away to feed my three little boogers and clean the house occasionally. Another manuscript is going out in query batches, as The Magic of Manuscript Rejections: Part 5 says. And a third is in progress, when I get tired of editing. Posting blog things kind of fell by the wayside.

I still want to assist you in whatever way I can though, so here are some good articles on writing in Deep POV for you fellow fiction authors. If that POV is not your jam, click on over to my For Writers page and go nuts with all the resources there.

  • Six great tips on how to write Deep POV from Kristen Kieffer at Well-Storied.com. She includes examples for each of the tips she gives, which is always so much better than just reading a list of ‘do’ and ‘don’t’.

“Deep POV is a very present, in-the-moment style. If you want to stay in the character’s mindset, you can’t write lengthy exposition, backstory info-dumps, and descriptions. All of that must be worked in naturally throughout your novel using only the POV character’s thoughts, actions, senses, and conversations” (from article, 23 April, 2015.)

  • Take on Deep POV with a super quick history of writing and a lot of humor from author and editor Kristen Lamb. She also includes an example, moving from omniscient narrator to deep POV in small steps for you to follow.

“If we really pause and think about it, thought and sense words are frequently redundant. If we are IN the character’s head? We KNOW she is thinking. Who else would be thinking?” (From article, 9 June 2015.)

So, enjoy. Good luck with your writing. If you have some updates on your current work go ahead and link me to them. I will make some time, for that!

 

 

Featured photo courtesy stocksnap.io and Josh Byers

The Magic of Manuscript Rejections: Part 5

The Query ship sets sail again this week! In batches of five or so my latest begging letter will be heading out to seas unknown, trying to lure me in an agent.

Here be monsters

here be monsters

(if you define monsters as a vicious cycle of hope and rejection, which I totally do.)

In honor of the maiden voyage of my completed manuscript, I have decided to start this journey with a nautical theme. Because why not?

The good ship That Wind is the Sound of Your Ego Deflating will be my home for the voyage.

jack-sparrow-s-first-scene-o

Captain Optimism will be navigating, with First Mate Peu Sûr (he’s French) at the helm. Various crew members will come and go, I’m sure, including Self Doubt, Confidence, Fear, Hope, Stubborn, Anguish and Bob. (Bob is there for the comic relief, and we are going to need him.) If things go according to plan, Self Doubt and Anguish will jump ship in the Bermudas and live on the beach making straw bags for tourists while I sail on to success.

I anticipate smooth sailing for about two months, after which the agents will have had time to read my queries and start sending rejections. Wave high to the Query Shark as we pass, Hi Janet!After that six to eight weeks I will hit the Time For Rejections Reef and be stranded for a while. 

We’ll be stuck on the Reef for months but don’t worry, I don’t anticipate any desperate drinking of urine or cannibalism. I’ve had lots of time to store up the provisions of grit just so that doesn’t happen. The menu will include equal amounts of baseless enthusiasm, stubbornness, revisions, and alcohol.

Although I’m hitting this with a healthy dose of sarcasm, I really am excited to start the journey. In a way, it’s exhilarating. Getting a rejection makes me want to work that much harder so I don’t get rejected next time. I don’t intend to live on that Reef forever.

If you’re in the process of querying, make sure to leave me a comment about how it’s going! We’re on this daunting voyage together.

the mostdeliciousand healthysnacks to eat

 

 

Featured image via stocksnap.io and Mira Bozhko.

Surprise! It’s IWSG Day!

And further surprise! I did not write a post for the question this month. I blame the start of school, the pace of my freelance writing (picking up), and who I am as a person. *insert shrug emoji*

A special announcement was part of this month’s blog hop. I won’t make you click around to figure out what it is. Instead, I will tell you: IWSG is hosting another contest for short stories to be featured in their anthology. Theme-Mystery/Crime/Thriller that has something specific to do with time (a clock, a countdown, something time related.) Word count 3500-6000. Due by November 1st, 2017. Go here to check that out and perhaps enter.

The question for the regular monthly hop is: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?

insecure-writers-support-group-badge The awesome co-hosts for this month of September are Tyrean MartinsonTara TylerRaimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure. Go give their posts a gander if you want more satisfying answers to things like questions and wordier posts with cool insights.

Although I didn’t take a whack at the question myself, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Feel free to ruminate about it in the comments and I will be sure to answer.

To make up for the lack of postage here, I present to you this fun otter meme. Everyone loves otters. Laugh at the cute otter, and forgive my lack of ambition this month.

I said good day

 

Featured image via stocksnap.io and Annie Spratt

Be Proud of Your Writing

You do you, and give yourself the credit for doing it.

A lot of the time, writers are afraid to give themselves enough credit.

We are afraid of seeming too pompous. Like people will see us as the writer holed up in a shed fueled by cigarettes, spite, and gallons of alcohol writing the Most Epic Literary Work of All Time. We’re worried that if we brag about the work we do it will sound excessively self-important and annoying.

If someone likes their work, writers tend to shrug it off with a modest “oh, it has a lot of polishing left to do” or “after a few edits, maybe it will be worth reading, (LOL).” Someone says, “Wow, you wrote a book?” and the writer starts talking about all of the ways it could be better and it’s not that big of a deal, but, you know, thanks.

b510446f461de77eef53c08d6634a12567ad2fd5_hq

It’s true that it’s not acceptable to be an arrogant douche of an egoist who won’t shut up about every little achievement. No one wants to be around a person like that and there is such a thing as being too self-confident. How many stories have the antagonist defeated by the fatal flaw of hubris?

What we sometimes forget, while we’re busy modestly deflecting, is that a certain level of pride is just fine.

Authors and fellow Writers, it is right and correct for us to have self-confidence.

mcgonagal

Arrogant, unjustified pride=no. Satisfaction and a sense of pleasant achievement=yes.

Being proud of the endless hours you spent fighting with the keyboard is not bragging. Feeling fulfilled when you think of the way you have grown as a writer is natural. It’s OK to think well of yourself for having the tenacity to write. What you did by shrugging off all of the rejections and plugging along anyway is amazing. It’s not hubris to say that, or admit that you’re proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished.

In fact, if there’s any hope of you having the grit and toughness to continue to create you must have a certain amount of pride in what you can do. You must have that feeling of satisfaction, and own it.

The day will come when someone says, “you wrote that? I loved it.” Doesn’t matter if they’re talking about a 200 word blog post or a 200K word novel. They liked your writing. You liked your writing, when you were busy pouring your heart and soul into it. It is acceptable to say so. It is even worth feeling proud of.

will smith I did it

So right now, practice saying something along these lines in return: “Thank you. I really liked writing it and I’m proud of it.” As a little exercise, if there’s a particular piece of writing you’re proud of, put a link in the comments for me! I’d love to go over and read it so I can be proud of you too.

Go ahead and give yourself the credit. No one will think badly of you for taking it.

the mostdeliciousand healthysnacks to eat (1)

 

 

Featured image courtesy Stocksnap.io and Aaron Burden

I’m Not Afraid to Call You a Foozler, You Mumbling Cove

Otherwise known as A 19th Century Slang Dictionary

Ah slang words. The gift that keeps on giving. In previous posts I’ve tackled the fun that is 2017 Slang and I’ve written A General Slang Dictionary for Writers but those were modern. The real gold mine, the crazy sounding words, the font that spews forth pure imagination, is in older variations on the English language.

How old? 150 years or so. Yes, there is lots of slang from much closer generations than that, but I’m writing books set between 1876 and 1880-ish and that’s the era that I research for euphemisms (and LOTS of other useless trivia, like when the first window screens were invented or The Question of Potties. The question is, did they even have potties then? Answer-yes.)

It reassures me, for some strange reason, to find that slang from any and every era focuses on the same basic things (1-the opposite sex, 2-insults, and 3-things to do for fun). Human nature hasn’t changed that much.

I’d like to share some of what I’ve found because it brightens your day to read it and hey, if you write a book set in the era yourself you can use some of it. Resources are listed at the bottom for you as well.

1. Flapdoodle

Noun/adjective. A man whose penis does not work, with the unspoken addition that it’s probably from age. Therefore, it just flaps around and is useless.

Harsh! It sounds stupid to my 21st century ears but at the time it was a really rude thing to call someone. Apparently the word could also refer to rubbish, or a woman’s lady bits during the same time, making it a multipurpose piece of vulgarity.

2. Whooperup

bad singing
I don’t mean Britney is a whooperup, by the way. She’s obviously listening to one

Noun/adjective. A very bad performer who makes noise instead of sweet music. Refers to a singer, rather than someone playing an instrument.

I’m going to guess the “whoop” part of the word refers to the noise the terrible singer is making. Think of the worst karaoke performance you’ve ever seen, and that person would be a whooperup.

3. Jammiest bits of jam

miss-congeniality-o
from the movie Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock

Adjective, descriptive phrase. Females that are perfection/beautiful/desirable. Pretty specific to 1883 and doesn’t seem to be used anywhere else.

It seems like “a Jammy bit” would be a logical extension of the phrase, but I can’t remember where I’ve read that. Maybe in a Terry Pratchett book?

4. Sauce-Box

Noun. Another word for the mouth.

It seems like this one should carry the overtone that you’re a smartass, i.e. saucy comebacks are coming out of your mouth, but I could be wrong.

5. Anti-Fogmatic

rum

Noun. Another way to refer to Alcohol-specifically neat Rum or Whiskey.

I fail to see how alcohol is anti fog making, but maybe in moderation? I’d love to see someone who’d just had copious amounts of an anti-fogmatic try to say the word. Comedy gold.

6. Don’t know beans/Don’t care beans

frankly my dear

A way to express that you don’t know anything about it, or don’t care about it at all. Emphatic modifier.

7. Catawamptiously chewed up

loki

Completely defeated. Not just beaten, but thoroughly beat down.

Probably derived from the word “catawampus/cattywampus” which means off-center/ out of alignment. Either one would be super fun to work into a book somehow. #goals

8. Honeyfuggled

To cheat or otherwise deceive someone. You would say, “he sold me what looked like a good horse but he honeyfuggled me.”

Again, if I ever get a legitimate excuse to use this one it’s going in, no matter what.

9. Wake Snakes

crowd

To make a lot of noise, cause a ruckus.

Just guessing that this refers to being so rowdy that even snakes sleeping underground would be woken up by your noise. Plus it sounds clever and rhymes.

10. Cussed/Cussedness/Cussedest

A way of saying ‘cursed’, with overtones that the person you’re referring to is mean, contemptible, worth being cursed.

Example; ‘he was a cussed fool’, ‘she flat out refused to go out of pure cussedness’, ‘this is the cussedest place I’ve ever been to’.

11. Inexpressibles

Noun. Another word for pants or trousers.

Apparently even mentioning pants was considered rude (because it might remind people there was a penis inside them?) so people said inexpressibles or unmentionables instead. Also the word to refer to underwear, which almost certainly had a penis inside them. Seems confusing to me but people succeeded in getting dressed every day so, OK.

12. Lick-spittle

sycophant

Synonym for a kiss-ass, a sycophant, a toady, a boot-licker, or a suck-up.

There are so many different words for this, it’s obviously been around since there were people. Personally I would like to see this one brought back into common use.

Bonus words: Foozler means a fool or a bungler. Mumbling Cove means a shabby person or, oddly, is specific to meaning a terrible landlord.

Sources for this post:

A Nineteenth Century Slang Dictionary Compiled by Craig Hadley from period sources.

Thrillist.com article from 30 October, 2015, Brutal Insults from the 1800s That Demand a Comeback.

Mentalfloss.com article (6 Nov. 2013) based on the Andrew Forrester book Passing English of the Victorian Era. It’s British specific, and lots of fun.