Do you write “angry?” I try not to. However, I will admit there are times when I let loose.
I have all too often sat in front of my PC or Microsoft Surface, found myself feeling infuriated, and slammed keys and took it out on the pages. Briefly, I’d feel better, yes. But after I went back and reread my “tantrum,” I usually toned it down considerably.
For eventually I remember what I’ve also written about here recently. Be careful: your words are forever.
Proofing Distances, I’ve also been referring at times naturally to the first two volumes: Passports and Frontiers. When you write a series, continuity issues become huge. After all, as an author you don’t want to make even one silly mistake.
Because, of all that you write, you KNOW someone will pick up on any error. ;-) By now, there are A LOT of characters – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, college chums, girlfriends, boyfriends…. and they are all distinct people. And there are varied settings, happenings and other background that must not be “misremembered” either.
Amidst all of it, there are lighthearted moments. Life isn’t always “heavy.” I thought I’d pull some excerpts from Passports and Frontiers and (in no particular order) “rapid fire” share them here. Something a bit different. I hope you enjoy them!:
Yesterday, I was on about the cover art. Of course, the tale between the covers is far more important. After all, you can change a cover even after publication, whereas the book itself is “forever.”
I’m still working through the final proofing of Distances. As I am, it’s not only about keeping an eye out for errors and typos; it’s also about its language – carefully reviewing the text in detail to try to make sure it conveys the story in the style I want. I suppose it’s not unlike an artist’s having a last look at the painting and applying the final brush strokes.
While writing the books, occasionally I run parts of the text through the Flesch-Kincaid readability check. That above is how chapters 125-133 in Distances “rate” overall in reading terms according to that test. Flesch-Kincaid has become so commonplace that it’s now even available in Microsoft Word when you do a combined spelling and grammar check.
That retired English literature professor’s disdain for “social media” embraced by “young people” led me to thinking. How much has changed in novel writing over the last few generations. One aspect of such change has zero to do with annoying kids insisting on using Twitter on holiday when, AS WE ALL KNOW, they should be sitting on Bournemouth Beach immersed in The Great Gatsby.
I don’t write my novels longhand. True, there is nothing new in someone doing that of course. We know typing has been around for over a century.
But a typewriter is just another form of physical writing. What’s changed in the last two generations is increasingly everything is on computers. And those computers are becoming ever more sophisticated.
As you may know, I’ve been proofing the Distances manuscript using a Word file emailed to my Kindle. (The last part of that sentence would’ve totally baffled F. Scott Fitzgerald.) I’m not inking out lines and words and scribbling in planned changes above them or in the margins and handing those changes to my devoted secretary…. who is invariably a lovely, ever-helpful woman who works for close to nothing because I can barely pay her, and she can type, because, being a man, as you know I’m a pathetic typist….
In a world full of young adult fiction readers who are also “social media” users, who could seriously argue the likes of Twitter are destroying novel reading among the young? For the two streams of entertainment aren’t mutually exclusive: reading a novel is one thing, while networking and socializing is another. Most people can walk and chew gum at the same time.
His summation of novels in single tweets is amusing. However, his tweets are obviously not replacements for reading the full novels themselves. That said, I’ve also never seen the issue positioned before in that thrown back on itself manner.
Over the last few days, as planned, I’ve spent hours proofreading and tidying up Distances. Headphones in, listening to it as I read along, it is remarkable how hearing your written words helps you focus while you proof. It does make it easier to spot not only the likes of accidentally omitted words and typos, but I find it better reveals the overall flow and “readability” and if there are any problems with them.
One of my proofreaders, who had before their publications critiqued both Passports and Frontiers, was also on the phone yesterday.
The net is wonderful in so many ways. It brings together those of us who otherwise would never have known each other. It allows us to share so much with others who may be equally enthusiastic about…. whatever it is we’re enthusiastic about.
I’ve read quite a lot of Thomas Jefferson over the years. You may know the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. diplomat in France from 1784-89 (a period of his life that, you may not be shocked to learn, has always been of particular interest to me), first Secretary of State, Vice President, and finally 3rd President, even gets casual mentions in my novels. That’s because, unsurprisingly perhaps based on my real-life interest, I’ve made “James” something of a “fan” too – and by this 3rd novel it’s well-known among other characters, who sometimes have some fun with it:
So when I saw this quote on Twitter a few days ago, I’d thought: How interesting? Hmm. I’ve never seen that before?:
The finish is no longer somewhere off in the, uh, nebulous “distance.” It’s done. The draft Distances manuscript is finished:
And, whew, in a way I am about finished now, too. I crossed the finish line yesterday afternoon. After I did, I sat for a few moments staring at the computer screen in semi-disbelief.
What remains now is the final proofing for spelling, grammar, and any other errors. Doing that will take a month or so: it’s nearly 93,000 words. I already found a few mistakes in rereading part of it last night.
As I wanted it to be, Distances is similar in scope to Passports and Frontiers. Based on how long those each took me, I’m actually over a month ahead of where I had expected to be with Distances about now. I’m not quite sure how I managed to so outpace my planned “timeframe.”