“Mystery Writing 101”
Word Choice Quiz (25 Points)
(Fine tuning language is an essential part of the writing process. Select the word or phrase that best improves the following passage. For this exercise, use of dictionary, BlackBerry, apothecary, hari-kari is not permitted.)
1. Moonlight (spilled, splashed, splattered, sidled, sauntered) through the open window, illuminating the motionless form on the carpet in the duke’s library.
2. “Wat’s son, observe the murder weapon,” Shirley Lock Homes
(meowed, mewled, moaned, mimicked, murmured).
3. Projecting from the victim’s chest was a (cattle prod, iPod, ripe cod, piece of sod, lightning rod).
4. “The killer must have gained (access, egress, excess, digress, finesse) through the unlocked window,” Homes observed, taking note of the shambles in the book-strewn library.
5. Just then, Edwina, the duke’s daughter, (flitted, floated, flew, flapped, flounced) into the room.
6. “Oh, no!” she gasped, “it’s (the butler, dear father, my faithless lover Snidely, another wretched homeless person, our dog Spot)!”
7. Miss Misanthrope, the quarrelsome governess, whimpered: “Who could have (effectuated, facilitated, fulminated, perpetrated, perambulated) this dastardly deed?”
8. Homes (leaned over, towered over, sprang over, stumbled over, puzzled over) the supine corpse.
9. She paused and (gaped, gasped, gulped, grinned, grimaced).
10. Suddenly, Homes cocked her head and listened intently. “Do you not fail to hear what I fail to hear?” she inquired in a (silky, surly, soft, sotto, sensuous) voice.
11. “It’s almost dawn, but the rooster didn’t (call, coo, cackle, crow, cock-a-doodle-doo). In my experience,” the detective said with deliberation, “when a bird, herd, nerd, Kurd, word isn’t heard, something is amiss.”
12. “Not I,” blurted Edwina, tearfully. “Alas, I have been secretly wed to the gardener’s ne’er-do-well son, Snidely, for six months. Besides, we
(decapitated, defeathered, disjointed, dismembered, disestablishmentarism) that stupid bird for waking us up months ago.”
13. “Oh,” said Homes. She straightened abruptly, aware of (a sudden epiphany, muscle spasms in her lower back, the pangs of nicotine deprivation, slipping panty hose).
14. “What now, Homes?” grumbled Wat’s son. He watched as Homes peered through a (Coke bottle, periscope, jeweler’s loupe, electron microscope, 8×32 bird watcher’s binoculars) at a hair recovered from the body.
15. “This follicle appears to be from a (bearded cactus, imitation mink stole, elk shedding hair, balding symphony bassoonist, six-year-old male Abyssinian cat that has been spayed and has received distemper but not feline leukemia injections)” Homes observed.
“Ah…the latter…your pet, I trust?” Wat’s son muttered.
16. “Quite possibly,” conceded Homes, depositing the hair in a plastic bag. “I must admit to failure in (discerning, disguising, dissembling, discovering, disgusting) the culprit.”
“Gad, Homes,” expostulated Wat’s son, “why does this case in particular confound you?”
17. Homes frowned. “Because it’s a (corundum, puzzlement, sticky wicket, riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, crime that can be solved only with DNA testing). I fear that we must turn to our American cousins for technical assistance,” she said regretfully.
“I must say…” Wat’s son’s voice tailed off in disbelief.
18. “Yes,” continued Homes. “I shall employ the services of the (CIA, CSI, FBI, Park ‘n’ Fly, wash and dry).”
“I wish I’d thought of that,” remarked Wat’s son ruefully.
19. “It’s (primary, secondary, tertiary, very berry, fireman’s carry)” replied the detective.
20. “Ah, but not so elementary this time, is it my dear Homes?” needled Wat’s son as the first golden rays of dawn (creeped, leaped, peeped, seeped, weeped) into the room.