“Where will this post land? on the Conversation Farm Blog or on the Making Book Blog?” Here we go.
IF anybody is still reading this – I’ve been so remiss from keeping up, even though I think about it often – here’s a bit of good info from my editor. It is in response to my note to him about a wee too many pronouns in his edit. she-he-it = dem- dez-does.
His response, as always, is full of light and clarity. Hope you enjoy —
And now a lesson from my editor . . .
Thanks for the kind words on my edits. My job is to be the person who buys your book and reads it. That person will be so immersed in the story (because it’s a good one) that
she/he will detect discrepancies or false notes. I’ve had a lot of practice.
Which leads us to those pronouns …
It’s about clarity; who did what. For instance, in this sentence:”Myrtle didn’t understand why Estelle became distant and James remained absent from all community events and became increasingly depressed at the sudden crash of her dream for a June wedding.” it is James who is becoming increasingly depressed (read only the bold part).
So it needs to be: “Myrtle didn’t understand why Estelle became distant and James remained absent from all community events, and she became increasingly depressed at the sudden crash of her dream for a June wedding.”
See? (I know you do.) ((and of course I did))
Now, you could just stick in a comma, so it reads: “Myrtle didn’t understand
why Estelle became distant and James remained absent from all community
events, and became increasingly depressed …”
but when you insert the comma, what comes after it is a clause, not a phrase, and clauses need subjects (thus the “she”). Moreover, there are so many words between “Myrtle” and “became
increasingly depressed (including two other characters),” the reader needs to be
reminded who “doesn’t understand.” So the edited version is not only grammatically correct, it’s simply clearer.
In other instances, the difference is more subtle, but it’s still important. As in this
sentence: “James left Gladdenbury in a huff after the confrontation with his father and returned only for an obligatory appearance at their traditional Christmas Day open house,
where he attended select friends and clients but steered clear of his parents and the Howes, and subsequently turned down every invitation his mother extended thereafter.”
When you read this section: … Christmas Day open house, where he attended select friends and clients but steered clear of his parents and the Howes, and subsequently turned down every invitation …
it reads as if the turning down of invitations happens at the Christmas Day open house, when it actually happens in the time after the party (true, you put “thereafter” at the end of the sentence, but then you’re requiring the reader to go back and unthink what he/she already thinks. ((good point! As a reader, I hate that))
So: “… Christmas Day open house, where he attended select friends and clients but steered clear of his parents and the Howes, and he subsequently turned down every
invitation …” creates a new timeframe.
In this sentence, I’m not actually sure I was right to insert the pronoun (imagine
that!): “Celeste dug in her heels in spite of knowing she’d made a selfish mistake, ignoring Gamma’s urging to apologize, and pretended not to care what Ede said or did.:
But the syntax is confusing; it jumps from past tense (dug in her heels) to present tense (knowing, ignoring) back to past (pretended). How it should read, I believe, is:
“Celeste dug in her heels in spite of knowing she’d made a selfish mistake. She ignored Gamma’s urging to apologize and pretended not to care what Ede said or did.”
But that’s how I would write it, not how you would, so I just tried to do a patch-up
job with the insertion of the pronoun (she): “Celeste dug in her heels in spite of knowing
she’d made a selfish mistake, ignoring Gamma’s urging to apologize, and she
pretended not to care what Ede said or did.”
It just sounds more clear to me that way. ((I think I like the way he re-wrote the sentence, breaking it in two….must relfect more))
Granted, not all readers (and possibly only a few — including the NYT reviewer,
perhaps?) will have any clue about these differences, but why not always make
the first reading as clear as possible? I know how carefully you have crafted the sound and feel of the writing (which is part of what makes you an artist), but you must remember that because you are the writer, you always know where the sentences are going; the reader is always going along blindly and must be lead very carefully, lest he/she stumble and have to
backtrack for clarity.
That said, not all of my pronoun insertions are absolutely necessary; some sentences are clear enough without them. But as I hinted above, professional readers will pick up on these
things, and they just might get turned off by the little things that do not bother a casual reader.
Anyway, I never forget it is your book, and it should sound the way you want it to sound, so unless I think it creates a real problem, I’ll always bow to your discretion.
Cheerio, and let’s get together soon.
((ISN’T HE GREAT?!))
For no reason other than I like the look and sound of it, I’ve picked the book launch date
And if for some reason I miss that one – I will at least bring it all in sometime in 11-11
BOOK COVER is just getting its finishing touches. I’ll be posting soon about that – working with the artist and pictures showing the progression. Very excited to share that. Little peek of a corner of the design is the featured picture of this blog.
EDITOR continues to push my boundaries to great results. He had me add a flight scene of a plane ride from Prague to Brussels in 1930. Also the scene at the top of the stairs at the Cotillion, before the girls are presented. These were fun and invigorating writing challenges. I continue to thank my luck stars he is on my team.
INTERIOR DESIGN has also begun. That designer transformed my first chapter into the Goudy text and 6×9 layout and I just keep looking and looking at it. I love how the type feels on my eyes. Hope my readers do too!
ENDING REWRITE: After many rounds of readers, I was finally convinced to rewrite the ending and that process is also going well. Very happy with the direction it is taking. Feels good to be in the writing mix, rather than only the production mix – but all the balls in the air is a bit of a juggle. Looking forward to next winter when I’ll (hopefully) only be writing, again.
TEAM: As Amanda Hocking expressed: being your own publisher is a lot of work. My team is expanding with a proof reader who will review the final layout from the interior designer.
I have a ton of other details to generate, from ISBN to BIO to AUTHOR PICTURE to that interior page with all the publishing gobbly-de-gook (what goes on that page? must research).
So I best get back to it! Thanks for checking in and hope your summer is going swimmingly.
Could go on about what they missed in the narrative – so many details about the horse – as was captured so beautifully and movingly in the movie Seabiscuit. And what a sorry job many good actors did – probably because of a poor script.
But instead of all that, I want to share my favorite line.
“Run Your Own Race.”
It was advice the father gave to the daughter about her own life as well as the horses they raised.
Secretariat was a horse that loved to run. Only in the Belmont Race (the last of the triple crown) did his trainer take the risk of training him hard before the race – unsure if it would fire him up or burn him out. It did the former, and Secretariat won that race, the longest of the three, by 30 lengths and at a speed no horse has since matched. He ran his own race. Finally
It was curious to me that the trainer had never tested that theory out before the Belmont Race.
My husband said, most trainers train horses according to their own theory, not according to what the horse calls for.
A lot like our own lives, don’t you think? We get trained to master what our teachers think is important. And only to the limit to how they see us. If they don’t think we are a champion, maybe we miss it in ourselves.
A good part of the Secretariat story (but not really well done by Diane Lane) was the strength of the owner – who had to leave her family in Colorado and take some big risks and make some unconventional proposals – to get Secretariat to the racetrack. There is a scene she has with the horse the night before the Belmont when she realizes, she’d already won – by bringing him to this point. Now it was all up to him. To Run his own Race. And he ran the hell out of it.
So I am reminded to keep going, run my own race, and run it as I want, regardless of what previous trainers may or may not have said/done. There’s only one Secretariat and there’s only one me and we each have to run our own race.
You too, my friend. xo Laura