Friday, October 22, 2010

Got Brewer's?

Hey fellow writers! Where do you go for inspiration?

I once read an interview with J.K. Rowling where she said that several of her ideas were inspired by Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. And so I was introduced to this handy little book that provides a short definition for common phrases, mythological happenings, and other tidbits having to do with all things whimsical. Maybe I'm letting out a fabulous secret, or maybe every author out there is already combing Brewer's pages. But if you're looking for some great plot ideas (or a way to procrastinate), have a look through Brewer's compilation.

You can find it on Amazon or even browse online FOR FREE!

As you skim through it, you'll recognize a lot of familiar concepts, but I guarantee that your imagination will be sparked by other fascinating odds and ends. I'll pick the "E's" at random and include a few entries with story potential to pique your interest:

Earthmen (The) Gnomes and fairies of the mines: a solemn race, who nevertheless can laugh most heartily and dance most merrily.

Something to be licked up, a medicine made "thick and slab," which cannot be imbibed like a liquid nor bolted like a pill, but which must be licked up like honey.

Endymion in Greek mythology, is the setting sun with which the moon is in love. Endymion was condemned to endless sleep and everlasting youth.

Evil Eye
It was anciently believed that the eyes of some persons darted noxious rays on objects which they glared upon. The first morning glance of such eyes was certain destruction to man or beast, but the destruction was not unfrequently the result of emaciation.

Elshender or Cannie Elshie. The Black Dwarf, alias Sir Edward Mauley, alias the Recluse, alias the Wise Wight of Mucklestane Moor.

I've never read Sir Walter Scott's The Black Dwarf, but, I mean, seriously? The Wise Wight of Mucklestane Moor? That's a title I'd totally grab off the shelf. I think Dr. Brewer - fortunate enough to be christened with the handle Ebenezer Cobham - had an eye for curiosities.

Have I sold you on the pure brilliance that is Brewer's yet? If not, hop on over to the online edition, and let us know if you find anything good!

So, now that I've dished on one of my favorites, do you have any sources of inspiration you'd like to share?


  1. I've never heard of this book. How fun! If I need inspiration, I usually roam around the nonfiction areas of the library, especially the travel book area or the history area, and pick up random books with odd titles. Even if I don't use anything I find there, it somenow sparks the creativity.

  2. I hear you, Dee. I could get lost in the history area. An afternoon in the library is such a treat!

  3. You're invited to read about the magic.
    Please come check it out and help spread the word.

  4. I've never heard of Brewer's, but it sounds right up my alley & I'm definitely going to check it out! I don't have any fabulously wonderful secrets for inspiration, but I do think reading great stories--be it mythology, fairy or folktales, classics, or modern works--it a fantastic way to get the creative juices flowing.

  5. I don't got Brewer's! And I WANT it. :)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!