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Word of the Week: Gentrification

Word: gentrification

Pronunciation: jen-trə-fə-KAY-sh(ə)n

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word I picked up from Merriam-Webster’s trending words. Back in November, a coffee shop in Denver came under fire for posting a sign that contained the phrase “happily gentrifying“. While the sign was meant as a joke, the fact that it was placed in a neighborhood once occupied primarily by minorities sparked a lot of backlash from local residents. Considering the word often implies the displacement of poor communities, it’s easy to see why most people wouldn’t consider “gentrification” funny at all!

“Gentrification” is the process of renovating and improving a district or house to middle-class standards. The word is the noun form of the verb “gentrify”, meaning to “renovate and improve (especially a house or district) so that it conforms to middle-class taste”. This verb derives from the late Middle English noun “gentry”, defined as “people of good social position, specifically (in the UK) the class of people next below the nobility in position and birth”.

Aside from its main definition, “gentrification” can also be used on a smaller scale to mean “the process of making a person or activity more refined or polite”. While Oxford Dictionaries‘ definition focuses on the positive side of “gentrification”, Merriam-Webster gives a more elaborate definition that mentions its most common consequence: “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents”. If you write stories about developing areas and the effects of that progress on the local population, “gentrification” is a good word to use in your writing!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Only Yours

Believe me, love, when I say
Everything I feel for you is real.

My life changed after you came into it.
You’re the only one for me.

Virtually every moment of my life has
Always been leading me to you.
Love as strong as this was inevitable
Ever since the moment we met.
Now I know the meaning of
True love and all the happiness it brings.
I adore you from the bottom of my heart.
Never doubt my devotion, love;
Every last bit of my heart is yours!

What I’ve Learned about Romance After 8 Years of Being in Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! February is the official month of love, so what better time of the year for writers to think about romance? Love is one of my favorite themes, and when I think about the best romantic stories I’ve ever written, I often find hints of the real romance I’ve been living with my boyfriend over the last eight years. I’ve learned many lessons about love in my personal life, and I like to think they’ve made me both a better writer and a better person!

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are three lessons I learned from being in love that have served as inspiration for my romantic fiction. I hope they’ll inspire you too! Enjoy!

1) The greatest romance is with your best friend.

I know some guys still have a hard time believing this, so let me clear something up right now: there is no such thing as the “friend zone”! Trust me: this is coming from a woman who’s never dated a guy she didn’t consider a friend first. Just saying.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should always establish a friendship with someone before you start dating them. I’m just saying that when you do fall in love, it should be with someone you consider a true companion: someone who makes you laugh, who makes you feel safe, and who will always be there for you no matter what.

In other words, your best friend.

Me when my boyfriend is playing PC games while I’m writing
Illustration from the comic “Soppy” by Philippa Rice

I had the good fortune of falling in love with a man I already loved and trusted as a friend. This took a lot of pressure off the beginning of our relationship, and it’s only gotten better ever since! It’s no wonder so many of my fictional couples start out as close friends; it’s worked out so well in my real life!

2) True love isn’t in extravagant gifts and declarations; it’s in everyday words and gestures.

Any woman who grew up watching Disney princess movies from the 20th century probably reached adulthood with unrealistic expectations of men. After all, Disney princes are valiant heroes who give magic kisses and go to incredible lengths to rescue the women they love. Real-life guys can hardly compare, right?

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my current relationship, it’s that the so-called true love in fairy tales is very different from true love in real life.

Love is in the little things
Illustrations by Puuung

I know beyond a doubt that my boyfriend loves me, but not because he showers me with gifts or writes me poetry that would rival Shakespeare’s. I can see it in the little things: the way he looks at me, the way he smiles at the sight of me when he comes home from work, the way he tells me I’m beautiful even when I’m wearing sweats and my hair is a mess, the way he knows exactly what to say or do to make me laugh.

In turn, I do my best to show him how much I love him in the same way: I compliment him every day, I constantly remind him how proud of him I am, and I do whatever I can to cheer him up when he has a bad day. Love is a two-way street!

Drawing inspiration from personal experience, I often add the same details to the relationships between my characters. True love means making each other happy, and in the long run, isn’t that much easier with small everyday gestures than with grand declarations of love?

3) You deserve someone who loves you just the way you are.

There are too many stories out there about girls who change everything about themselves just to please their guys, like Twilight or Grease or The Little Mermaid. Personally, I prefer the kind of story where the guy falls for the girl because she’s already everything he needs and vice versa.

The Difference between Love and Lust
Illustration by Karina Farek for CollegeHumor

I like to think my boyfriend and I found each other at the right time in our lives. I was in college and constantly feeling lonely and frustrated because I couldn’t seem to fit in with my classmates, while he wasn’t exactly at the highest point in his life either.

The initial connection we had and the relationship that followed have since found their way into some of the best romantic stories I’ve ever written. My favorite of these was about two young people who, despite being fine enough on their own, completed each other and made each other stronger. I didn’t have to look far for the inspiration behind that one!

There’s no better feeling than having someone who always supports your dreams and loves you just the way you are (besides your parents, of course). So if you love writing about love, I highly recommend experiencing it yourself. With a true romance in your life, you’ll never run out of inspiration!

What about you? What lessons have you learned about love in your lifetime? How have they inspired your writing?

Word of the Week: Shakespearean

Word: Shakespearean

Pronunciation: sheyk-SPEER-ee-ən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: relating to or characteristic of William Shakespeare or his works

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Last one, I promise! After three consecutive weeks of writing about words derived from authors’ names, I’m capping off a full month of these words with an adjective taken from the name of one of the most famous writers in history! With Valentine’s Day only two days away, it seemed only fitting to end this list with the author behind Romeo & Juliet. Whether you’re describing a play, a poem, an actor, or a time period, there’s no question that some very clear imagery comes to mind whenever you hear the word “Shakespearean”!

“Shakespearean” (alternatively spelled “Shakespearian”) comes from the name of the English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. This word describes anything relating to or reminiscent of the author’s works. The adjective generally refers to his plays and sonnets, but can also refer to actors who perform his plays or the time period during which his works were written.

Like the others, this word is more complex than a dictionary definition can sum up in a single line, especially considering how diverse Shakespeare’s subject matter was. While the most obvious definition of “Shakespearean” refers to Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets themselves, it also functions as a noun meaning “an expert on or student of Shakespeare’s writings”. Again, like the others, make sure you always capitalize this word because it comes from a name. If your stories include references to the immortal bard’s works, “Shakespearean” is a good word to include in your vocabulary!

Bonus: For examples of clever “Shakespearean” insults, enjoy the following TED-Ed video!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

A Year in Heaven

The year I’ve spent with you
Has been the greatest of my life,
A perfect, sweet reward
For our seven years of strife.

The distance was a trial
That year by year we passed,
But it was worth the wait
To be in your arms at last.

Nobody has the power
To make me laugh and smile
The way you always do
With your charming, witty style.

I love how much we share
And how much we think the same.
Forget expensive date nights;
Let’s just stay home and game!

You share in all my laughter
And hold me when I cry.
You make me feel so special
And don’t even have to try.

That’s all the proof I need
That our love is really true:
The year I’ve spent in Heaven
Living happily with you!


Happy Valentine’s Day to my loving boyfriend! Thank you for the most wonderful year of living together! I look forward to many more to come! I love you!

About J.C. Wolfe

J.C. Wolfe is a fiction writer, biologist, and aspiring novelist of science fantasy and romance. A natural-born American and graduate in Marine Ecology from a university in Brazil, J.C. now writes for a living in California while spending free time blogging and penning stories and poetry.

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