Wednesday 23 October 2019


A threshold is a point of entry, either real or metaphorical. Traditionally new brides were carried over the threshold of their marital home. A scientist could be on the threshold of an amazing discovery. Threshold can also mean a limit. It's said women have a higher pain threshold than men.

Originally a threshold was a raised strip of wood or stone. It was placed at the entrance to rooms such as kitchens and pantries where rushes, often scented with herbs, were strewn on the floor – as a kind of temporary carpet. Once dirty or wet, they could easily be swept up and replaced.  The rushes were known as thresh and without the threshold to hold them in place, would have been spread throughout the house.

If you're on the threshold of completing something which involves new media, get it finished and enter it into this free competition to be in with a chance of winning one of 5 prizes ranging from £500 to £750.

Wednesday 16 October 2019


A censor is an official who studies books, films, plays and the like and suppresses any parts they feel shouldn't be made public. This could be because they're illegal, obscene, a threat to security or anything else their employer doesn't want let 'out there'. They may decide a work is acceptable only to a limited audience – those over 18, or with security clearance for example.

Censor also means to make the changes the censor decided need to be made. That generally means removing the offending section. If that happens to your work, you've been subject to censorship.

We can also mentally censor ourselves. Often that's a good thing as it prevents us blurting out secrets or making inappropriate comments. I don't think it's something we should do when writing – at least not in the first draft. Get it all down first, then you can start censoring (or editing if you prefer the term) by removing anything you feel shouldn't be there.

Thanks to Kath Kilburn for passing on details of this free to enter writing competition, with the theme of The Censor. You can submit a short story or a piece of creative non-fiction. The best dozen or so will be published and the authors will receive two copies of the anthology, plus £150. The overall prize is £2,000!

Wednesday 9 October 2019


A word is said to rhyme with another when the sounds at the end are the same. Round rhymes with sound, time rhymes with mime (and rhyme). Half rhymes are words which nearly, but not quite, rhyme. Orange and lozenge is an example. Eye rhymes are those words which look as though they'd rhyme, because the endings are spelled the same, but don't. For example tough and through. Lost rhymes are words which used to rhyme, but due to changes in pronunciation, no longer do.

A rhyme can also mean a verse or poem which contains rhyming words. These generally come at the end of lines. If they're elsewhere they're known as internal rhymes.

Rhyming slang is a way of speaking which replaces a word or phrase with another which rhymes, although the actual rhyme may be omitted. In 'taking a butcher's' the word butcher's refers to a butcher's hook, which rhymes with look, and therefore means have a gander or a shufty.

Thanks to Bea Charles for passing on the details of this free entry poetry competition. The winner will get a personalised £100 book token with their poem on and £300 worth of poetry books. The judge is Pam Ayres. I like her. (The rules don't state that the poem must rhyme.)