Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Obsessive Compulsive Editing at INKBLOTS

One of 50,000 dogs who served in World War I
Frigid, rainy, January evening, temperatures in the 30s in Kitsap County, but fire hissing comfortingly to my right, glass of Menage a tois and French chocolates near to hand. We discussed what we've been talking about for months and months. Plans to have another session in the next week on typesetting and readying manuscript for book printer. We discussed the need for careful and skillful proof reading and copy editing (and the cost); however good a grammarian an author is, there are things we miss. We must have other eyes--honest, critical, experienced ones--on the manuscript. If the author is the artist, a good copy editor is the quality-control technician. And it doesn't hurt if the copy editor is 7/8ths OCD. Here are some helpful links about the different degrees of editing and the costs: I've included some of the publishing industry information and standard rates for editing here:

John read from his Russian novel underway. This is an intense, gritty, and realistic chapter about a young girl who is about to be violated by an intruder. She reached for a knife. I was terrified... Show what terrified looks like, in her trembling, her heart racing, the quickened breath. CS Lewis put it this way: "Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please will you do my job for me." John used the metaphor a wide berth--use another metaphor. This one is overused. Dougie Mac pointed out that John shifted from first person to third person in this chapter, an easy thing to do in first draft. It may indicate that you have not yet locked into which point of view works best for what you are doing in the novel. But you must lock in to a consistent pov. Alisa commented that the female antagonist is not going to observe the warm sunny day when she is feeling the impending threat. Justin commented that if she had planned ahead for her own self preservation where the knife was, her terror was regulated by calculation. The peace of the warm sunny morning is like a plate shattering after carrying a serving of bacon and eggs. The importance of the scream, a natural and necessary reactive impulse. 

Alisa has written two 1930s era manuscripts on a small town, Roslyn, Washington, based on a real murder that took place in this remote mining town.  A telephone operator overhears a plan to kill someone.  I wonder about the flash forward to the boy rocking back and forth glazed look in his eyes. I think you were creating foreshadowing but I wonder if you gave away too much. Remembering his mother's words... Why not actually let the reader hear them in his recollections. His mother talking about his wandering ways. Again, put this in him remembering her words in dialogue. This will create layers of character development; we'll hear his mother's words and get to know her unique personality, and we'll learn more of the dynamic of his relationship with his mother (if this is important to the story). You used Incredibly. I think this description would be stronger without the adverb.  Took gun out and studied it. How about his revolver, spinning the chamber to be sure it was loaded. What does it sound like. Heart racing as when he awoke after dreaming about monsters. Could you make this more specific? Monsters--too general. Jack the Ripper, or the Gill Man, or something more precise. His favorite miner--do you show this earlier? Yes she does. More specific details to show how meticulous the character is. Dougie Mac brings out a Smith & Wesson 357 revolver and explains double action and how Alisa could describe the antagonist preparing to use his. In fiction, I tend to avoid the who/which phrases in favor of a participial phrase (who was running down the road, better, running down the road. Who/which in fiction can sound too explanatory, in my opinion.

I read from War in the Wasteland where Lt Johnson pushes back on Lewis's atheism the night before going over the top. The push back from my 'Blots colleagues was that it was too weighty a discussion for the pace and needed more break to trench and war context. I'll get on that. Visit the link to read a pre-publication excerpt of War in the Wasteland.

Dougie Mac reads from his Western Front German perspective novel. I love how you use the Kant reference. His protagonist is reading a letter from his aunt. Hubert contemplating his aunt's unbelief and her conflating of all religions into one pot. This was a fascinating scene, a German sergeant showing one of his privates who is in charge. Well done.

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