Our Writing Contest Winners

Writing Contest Winners

Love or money? This one or the other was the topic of our writing contest. We got over 100 responses on Facebook and nearly 50 on Instagram. Through careful deliberation, here are the winners of our writing contest that ran from July 16 to the 23rd. All of the winners have provided a short bio while two winners have provided a photo to go with their submission.

Dhyani Patel

writing contest winner

“I am very passionate about literature. I love writing articles and composing poems. Besides, I am also highly interested in wildlife photography. Whatever my profession might be in the future but I always wish to follow my heart. To add on further, I am also a guitar lover and consider music as my stress healer. I love drawing and reading is also my habit.”

Love, an emotion;
Money, a possession.
Love is in the air,
Makes a person forget all the nightmares,
Known by all,
Felt by rare.
Money is the power,
By which one can build up a tower,
But it is useless,
If one couldn’t notice the beauty of a flower.
Love is basicity but money is necessity!!
Love or money? A hard choice to make,
On choosing one, the other is at stake.
Both are important equally as the two wheels of a bicycle…

Namira Amaliah Putri

The winner has requested to not provide a photo.

“I’m Namira Amaliah Putri and I’m eighteen years old, I perfectly love studying English especially grammar.”

If someone makes you choose love or money, what will you choose? I myself don’t know which one I have to take because I want both of them but I know it’s not as easy as pie to get them, many rich people don’t get love in their life while there are also many people who don’t have any money so if I’m asked to choose one of them, I won’t give any answer, I’ll just make money by doing everything which I love.

Muhammad Bahruddin

writing contest winner

Muhammad Bahruddin is a student of the Ph.D. program in Communications at the University of Indonesia. He is an awardee of LPDP. Currently, he is finishing his research in the field of Indonesian films. Bahruddin loves to write. A number of his articles are published by the national media, both print and online.

I prefer love to money. The love can bring energy to do anything. Thus, the money will be obtained easily. Conversely, without love, we will do something without the presence of the heart. We will lose energy. Thus, we will hardly get the money.

Thanks For Participating!

Do you have a favourite winner? Let us know! We’d also like to thank everyone for participating in our writing contest. As we got a lot of responses, we specifically have a writing club on the U-Dictionary APP for you to voice your thoughts on different topics!

Tip: U-Dictionary’s Writing Club provides numerous opportunities to practice your writing.

Etymology: Bumfuzzle

Etymology: Bumfuzzle

I’ve never heard of this word until I searched “funny English words” in Google. According to Dictionary.com, Bumfuzzle is a verb meaning to confuse or fluster.

Bill Clinton apparently used it to address surpluses and budget fights: “The American people must be totally bumfuzzled; [we] keep announcing surpluses and we keep having budget fights.” The word is primarily used in the southern United States.

Dissect Bumfuzzle

While it’s unclear where the word came from, a lot of sources say it’s a combination of “bamboozle,” “fuddle,” and “fuzzy,” all of which are words still used today.

Fuddle and fuzzy are more closely related to the definition of bumfuzzle, both being synonyms of confused. Bamboozle, on the other hand, means to cheat or fool. While this is arguably related to the overall meaning, it hints that bumfuzzle could really mean to confuse or fluster with bad intentions.

Bumfuzzle: The Aftermath

The aftermath of being bumfuzzled is often the feeling of embarrassment. However, it can also be disappointed or angry. Here are three examples of each.

For example, you are promised by your friend that he’ll get you the newest video game for Christmas. Excited, you arrange a day for all your friends to get together to play. But, when you open the present, you realize it’s not a video game but a board game instead. You feel slightly embarrassed, but you play the game anyway.

Here’s another scenario: you are promised pizza by your older sibling if you finish all your chores. You love pizza, you work hard to finish your chores before dinnertime. When the pizza order comes in, you discover that your sibling ordered the pizza you hate.

You get a phone call from your parents that the last piece of chocolate cake is waiting for you at home. When you finally get home, you happen to see your sibling finishing the cake you are promised. Will you feel angry or disappointed that you are too late?

Other Humorous Words?

There are tons of extinct (rarely used) and humorous English words out there. Have you heard of any others? Do you have a favourite?

Writing Exercise: Building Suspense In Writing

Building Suspense In Writing

A dominant theme of horror movies is the concept of the unknown. Who’s behind you? Who’s on the other side? Horror movies are famous for making people question continuously, a great way of building suspense in writing.

In this writing exercise, you receive a call from someone who seems to know you. However, you have no idea who they are. What do they say and how do you respond?

Tips On Building Suspense In Writing

This writing exercise is not limited to suspense. Depending on your approach, you can easily turn this into a different genre such as mystery, horror, and even romance. Though, when creating this exercise, my initial thought is suspense. So, I’m going to suggest some tips on how to write suspense.

I’m no writing professional, but I do enjoy a good mystery or thriller during my spare time. The mystery genre and the suspense genre are considered cousin genres by WritersDigest. In that article, they also mention their nine tips to writing suspense fiction.

They make a good distinction between suspense and mystery. They use the example of an assassination crisis of the president. While a suspense would begin with dropping weapons, mysteries would begin with the knowledge or hint of the assassinated president. “In a nutshell, suspense creates drama before the crisis event while mystery starts its thrill ride after the crisis event.”

My own tips to add to writing suspense include putting yourself in your character’s shoes. In other words, if they aren’t worried, it’s likely the reader won’t be either. Also, use your characters to drive curiosity: when is something going to happen? Your readers can know what is going to happen but when is it going to happen? Or, something bad is going to happen but when?

Drop little hints along the way to fuel the suspense. A good suspense reveals bits at a time through dialogue or exposition. It should answer a question or many questions but leaves the reader hungry for more. In essence, it should build toward the climax of your story.

For example, in terms of this writing exercise, your character may start by feeling confused which escalates to fear after getting multiple calls. The character then realizes that the caller is inside his or her home or is suspicious when something is out of place such as the TV turned off when it was on a few moments ago.

Ready To Write?

These are only a few tips on how to write suspense. While your writing doesn’t have to reflect this theme, it’ll be a great way to practice building suspense in writing. Let’s go back to the writing exercise.

You receive a call from someone who seems to know you. However, you have no idea who they are. What do they say and how do you respond? What happens next?

Writing Exercise: Hero Or Villain

Writing Exercise: Hero Or Villain?

Imagine this: you get an exclusive offer to be part of the main cast of the most anticipated film of the year. They give you two options: to play as the hero or the villain. In this writing exercise, we would like to know which would you decide to play?

The Hero

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A hero (male) or heroine (female) is the protagonist (the main character) of the movie. They combat hardships through strength, bravery, and ingenuity (intelligence). Heroes or heroines perform good deeds for honour and for the common good rather gain fame and fortune. He or she may have some special quality or talent that distinguishes them from the rest of the characters. This can also be an attribute.

There has been debate over the differences between a hero and heroine. Male heroes are often portrayed as physically capable, witty, faithful, determined, chivalrous, and many more fluffy adjectives. Heroines, on the other hand, are argued to shed their feminine traits for them to possess heroic characteristics. Nina wrote an interesting article detailing her thoughts on women heroes and their role in literature, film, and pop culture.

Some common examples of fictional heroes are the ones from superhero movies such as Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and so on. However, Harry from Harry Potter and Thomas from The Maze Runner also classify as a hero. Great fictional heroine examples include Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and Diana Prince from Wonder Woman.

The Villain

writing exercise hero villain

The villain (male) or villainess (female) is often the antagonist (the opposing character) of the movie. They cause conflict and are an obstacle or provide obstacles so the protagonist has difficulty in achieving his or her goal. In cartoons and fiction, villains are often portrayed as scheming. Cackling with glee and rubbing their hands in glee as they plot for world domination or world takeover is an iconic scene.

However, Ben Bova recommends that authors do not include villains in their work. He states, “In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil… Fiction mirrors life. Or, more accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus on what they know in life and bring its realities into sharper, clearer understanding for us. There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. There are only people with problems, struggling to solve them.”

Additionally, there are debates that heroes and villains are driven by different motivations.

Many writers also seek to create sympathetic villains: a villain who has good intentions but are deterred to an antagonistic path along the way. This is an attempt to add realism and a human connection.

A quote by Joseph Brodsky sums up villains and arguably sympathetic villains quite well. “Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.”

Which Would You Choose?

While the hero character still dominates most films, literature, and shows, the line between heroes and villains have begun to blur. A quote by Joseph Brodsky sums this up quite well.

“Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.”

For this writing exercise, we like to know which character you would like to play? Personally, I wouldn’t like to play either. Three cheers for sidekicks.

Follow our blog or Facebook or Instagram for more exciting writing exercises every Wednesday!

Sharing: Which One Will You Choose?

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Let’s think about this.

I would pick these two:

The”eating-without-gaining-weight” pill would be on top of my list. Just picture this:

you can enjoy delicious food without gaining weight or suffering the pain of exercising (though I sometimes enjoy working out, I have to admit that I am NOT that into it.)! Is there anything better than this? Nope. Not that I know of. (Sorry, guys, this is just my favorite)

And the “boost-my-confidence” pill. Wow, I think this is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Confidence makes one shine, right?

Now it’s your turn! Write a few lines:

Which two pills will you choose and why?

Leave a comment and share with us!

Bless You

Bless You

Someone may have said this to you after you sneezed. Sometimes you won’t even know who said it. Why is saying bless you so common? Good question. We’re here to answer it, sort of.

bless you sneezes

Origins of Bless You

Bless you has many origins. The first is the belief that it will save you from certain death when Europe was hit by the plague. The expression may also have originated from superstition: a sneeze might expel the spirit from the body. By saying “bless you” or “God bless you”, it will prevent this from happening. Some ancient cultures believed that sneezing forced evil spirits from the body. Therefore, the person who sneezed and those around them will be protected.

There was also a period where sneezes allowed the devil to steal the person’s soul. Another spooky one was evil spirits used a sneeze to rush into the body.

The devil, demons, and death are apparently closely associated with sneezes. There was another thought where people died for a brief moment and the saying encouraged the heart to beat again.

Looks like sneezes are quite deadly. Or, it may be just a way for people to acknowledge your sneeze. We’ll take that one over the demons and death.

Sneeze Responses

Ever wondered how other cultures respond to sneezes?

German – “Gesundheit”

Hindu – “Live” and responds “With you”

Zulu – “I am now blessed”

Greeks and Romans – “Banish the Omen”

Interesting Facts About Sneezes

Never thought there would be interesting facts to learn about sneezes, right? Well, here are six facts about sneezes that you might have never known (and are probably useless.)

Sneezes can’t be stopped when they start. They’re an automatic reflex.

The sneeze spray can scatter up to five feet and travel at a speed of 100 miles per hour.

You can’t sneeze when you’re asleep. This is because the nerve reflex is also resting.

The nerve endings in your face are irritated if you sneeze when plucking your eyebrows. This will fire an impulse that reaches the nasal nerve.

The longest continuous sneeze was for 978 days by Donna Griffiths from Worcestershire, England.

Jokes aside, holding in sneezes can be dangerous. So, better just let it out when you get the chance.

English Short Stories – Labyrinth

English Short Stories

English short stories are a fun and engaging method for beginners to learn English. Short stories have one key benefit: they are short. They are meant to be fast-paced and concise. In addition, English short stories introduce readers to a variety of different genres and bring back the habit of daily reading.

A piece of advice often given to beginners looking to improve their language skills is by reading to which U-Dictionary agrees as well. Reading boosts one’s comprehension skills and helps you get a better grasp of vocabulary. Many blogs you read will often say the same. Therefore, reading English short stories will give an easier transition to developing a daily habit.

To boost your daily reading habit, U-Dictionary has written a short horror story below. The following story is based on a writing prompt from Writers Digest!

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Labyrinth

The large hands around his shoulders were his only guide as the world in front of his eyes was shrouded in a thick curtain of darkness. The coldness of the concrete could be felt through the soles of his shoes as his inept steps became more and more of a tedious effort.

He felt no energy, no adrenaline, no life running through his exhausted body as he heard hushed whispers that blended together as if they were all one voice. 

“Sleep, my friend,” came a honeyed murmur next to her ear. 

When he no longer felt the warm supporting touch, his weakened body almost instantly collapsing onto what felt like an ice patch on a cold winter’s night.

His fingertips slightly grazed the cold ground he laid upon as his consciousness dawned upon him. 

“Open your eyes,” came a haunting voice.

The boy’s eyes shot open, his adrenaline spreading like wildfire as he saw nothing but darkness. He reached for the back of his head in hopes of finding a blindfold of sorts that was cruelly responsible for hindering his vision, but all he felt was the short strands of his brown hair.

Suddenly, he felt a presence. 

Its brief and frigid touch against his abnormally warm skin was borderline seductive. Cries of help became lodged in his throat which was immediately replaced by a choked and helpless cry. 

The next words of the voice raised a slight alarm as he caught the familiar drawl in the voice, “What do you see?”

The boy swallowed and said with a wavering voice, “Nothing. I see nothing.”

He heard a low chuckle before the voice replied with the same drawl, “What do you want to see?”

A touch. He shivered.

“Anything… I just want to see!” he pleaded then added, “Who are you?”

An agonizing scream left the boy’s dry throat as a fierce flash of light suddenly appeared in his darkness. Spontaneous flames began burning away the frightful ambiguity until the boy was met with a figure that made the blood in his veins run cold.

 “You’re asking questions you already know the answers to. Didn’t you know?”

The boy himself stood in front of him. His short brown hair was soiled and his tattered clothing revealed much of dry blood and old and sewn up scars. Fresh blood ran from his dirty ears which followed his sharp jawline until it no longer could.

The red liquid dripped onto the chilly concrete into a small, black puddle. His dark lips were smiling but sewn shut. And in replacement of his brown eyes were dark empty sockets.

His right hand was placed neatly over his left which was resting on his lap, the skin on his hands peeling away. He wasn’t standing but sitting in a weathered wheelchair, his legs appeared skinnier than the rest of him. 

Underneath the stormy clouds, large, gray concrete walls were seen on either side of them, and where the boy was was a fork in the path. 

“I am you,” the doppelganger said with a ghost of a smile, “And you are me.”

The boy screamed but heard nothing. He froze and allowed his frantic thoughts to run amok in his exhausted mind.

“You cannot hear,” the boy heard his doppelganger said then added with a drawl, “At least not your own voice.” The boy opened his mouth but hadn’t a chance to speak as his other half continued, “How does it feel to lose a sense we often take for granted?”

“Give it back,” the boy pleaded, “Please. I beg of you.”

“This is only the beginning,” the doppelganger whispered. “It’s the beginning to one of my favourite games.” 

The boy stared in fright as the wheelchair moved closer and closer to him with the words, “Welcome to The Rift,” echoing in the back of his mind.

Thoughts: Are Social Networking Sites Good for our Society?

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Background: Around seven out of ten Americans (69%) use social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, as of 2018, up from 26% in 2008.

On social media sites, users may develop biographical profiles, communicate with friends and strangers, do research, and share thoughts, photos, music, links, and more.

Supporters of social networking sites say that the online communities promote increased interaction with friends and family; offer teachers and students valuable access to educational support and materials; facilitate social and political change; and disseminate useful information rapidly.

Opponents of social networking say that the sites prevent face-to-face communication; waste time on frivolous activity; alter children’s brains and behavior;  and spread false and potentially dangerous information.

Guys, what do you think? Are you for it or against it?

Share your thoughts with me!

Write An End For My Story

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Here’s today’s story:

Last week I went to the theater. I had a very good seat. The play was very interesting.

However, I did not enjoy it.

A young man and a young woman were sitting behind me. They were talking loudly. I got very angry. I could not hear the actors. I turned round. I looked at the man and the woman angrily. They did not pay any attention.

In the end, I could not bear it. I turned round again…

Guys, what do you think will happen next? Share your thoughts with me!

Next week, I will reveal the ending, which I promise will surprise you. Don’t forget to write something down and check my ending next week!

Sharing: A Letter To My Past Self

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Looking back on our past, we all have things to regret. If you are allowed to write a letter to your past self, what would you say to yourself?

For example, I would like to say to my past self that, don’t be afraid of trying new things, because exploring can bring you a lot of fun!

What about you? Would you like to encourage your past self? Or maybe share with him/ her some insights? Or you want him/her (not) to do something?

Write two to three sentences and share with me!