Authors and editors have a responsibility to present the best possible product to their readers. A good team will locate and fix most errors and be able to present a polished product. It's easy to get words mixed up, particularly homophones. It's one of my pet peeves, possibly because I do it too. Surely though, a professional writer would make sure their work was checked for such things, and surely, their editor/s would know enough to pick them up.
I like reconstructed fairy tales and I've just read an anthology of some. A few of the stories have really annoyed me, though, and I've wondered if I've wasted my money buying the book. The story structures are fine, and the ideas are good. It's the words that have bothered me. Some examples from a couple of stories in the collection--they aren't all homophones.
Then denotes a progression. Something happened THEN something else happened. Than is a comparison. We are better THAN that.
The text: 'parents try to through a party'. No one in the writing and editing process picked the difference between through and throw?
Text: 'might now no qualms about'. Know fits with knowledge; now is time sensitive.
Text: 'Where they really going into'. This could just be a typing error, but someone should have picked it up before publication.
Text: 'took a movement to straighten'. I wouldn't have thought these two words would ever have been confused, but there you go.
Text: 'fingers found her grown made of blue velvet'. Okay, this one's a typo, but still.
Text: 'clamored from the water'. Not a typing error, but an easy one to check.
I find this one all the time. So many people seem unable to understand the difference between possessives and contractions.
One is a result or a noun, the other is the result of an action.
I could go on, but that would be allowing the rant to control me. As a side note: the first seven are from the same story in the anthology. The other stories represented had the same editor.
I haven't mentioned the name of the anthology, the authors or the editors because I don't think that's constructive. What is constructive is making people aware that these sorts of errors occur all the time but should be picked up before publication. Sometimes things are missed, but surely a short story should end up with much fewer than a dozen obvious problems with words and sentence structure (not mentioned in this post).
As a side note. If any of my readers find mixed up words or typing errors in my books, I'd be grateful if you'd let me know. I might not be able to fix it right away, but will certainly endeavour to do so in the next edition.
I use writing targets to keep me writing. There are days I struggle to write anything. Sometimes I don’t even open the file and look at it. Sometimes I open it, read the last paragraph and put it away again, with no idea how to move the story forward. These things happen often during the sections of the story that I haven’t visualised the way I have other scenes. Even though I have a basic plot outline, the details aren’t set in my head yet.
There are days I say to myself, I’m writing today, regardless. I set myself a 1000 word target for a writing session and try to write a minimum of 500 words. Sometimes it takes me an hour to write 120 words. Sometimes a half hour will net 500, so I keep going.
I have three writing targets for each writing session:
There are days—like today—where I need to watch each of those targets. These are the days that writing is a struggle so I look at the book target and see I need another 350 words to get to the next 1000. That’s achievable but a bit far away. I move onto the session target and see I’ve written 194 words; 800 shy of my 1000 word target. The chapter I’m writing is one I started a few days ago. It has a target of 4000 and I’m now at 3300, so only 700 short of my chapter target.
I dismiss the session target and the chapter target for now and focus on the book target. There are only 350 words to write to reach the next milestone. I can do that. It’s only a few hundred words. So I write.
Once I hit that target, I look at my session and chapter targets again. My chapter target is now only 350 words from the 4000 words. I can do that. It’s not much to write.
By the time I do that, I’m only 106 short of the session target. Anyone can write 100 words, right?
So that’s how I make it work when I don’t know what to write or don’t feel like writing.
I’ve been working on the sequel to Warrior Pledge. One of my tasks has been to get a character transformed from man to dragon when he didn’t know what was going on. He’s been making choices all along, but with no clear idea what the cumulative consequences of those choices will be—pretty much the way most of us live our lives. His choices will eventually lead him to losing his humanity and becoming a dragon.
My dilemma was how to achieve that in a way that was both realistic (as far as fantasy ever is) and unique.
Firstly, the unique.
My dragons are born of rock. I won’t explain exactly how that happens because I have a fear of someone who is a much faster writer than I am taking not only the idea but the process and getting their book out before mine is even finished. I wouldn’t be happy if that happened. If someone wants their dragons born of rock too, they can work out how to do it themselves—and I’ll enjoy reading about the process they come up with.
Secondly, the realism.
There are many different ways to make something totally fantastic feel real. It could be something as simple as a gesture or a word. In this instance, I decided to invoke the Song of Ruth. Dare I say it—my Christian upbringing has finally given me something useful.
It’s the vow in the song that triggers the acceptance that’s necessary for the process to complete. Now Fisher will never be able to get rid of Artemis.
It’s a good thing that’s exactly what both of them want.
Yesterday, I wrote a section in the new book that will lead me straight back to Checa and Heath from Warrior Pledge. We’ve already visited them once, briefly, when they were captured by the Yeudan. Once Fisher helped them escape, they gathered the information they needed, then went back to the Aylmer Mountains to better prepare their troops. There’s a lot around their capture and escape I haven’t worked out yet—that’s some of the backfill I need to work on during editing. I want to get the rest of the story down before I start fixing things.
I’ve really enjoyed writing around Checa and Heath’s lives again. I’m gaining a much more complete picture of their world and how all the different people fit into it and how each society interweaves with the others.
The edit list I’m creating as I go—things I know I haven’t done well enough yet, or things that need some back-fill added in previous chapters—is becoming extensive. It’s going to take some effort to make sure I get it all done properly.
I’m at a self-imposed write-in today, meeting another writing friend for some serious writing time before lunch. With all my technology woes over the last week, I haven’t written much. Yesterday I hit 800 words while waiting for an appointment with an Apple tech, so it wasn’t totally wasted time. Today I’m hoping to hit 4000 words. I have around 25000 words to write in this novel, then I can begin editing.
I’ve written not one word since 30 November, mainly because technology hates me. My desktop computer died a few weeks ago and it took a while to work out what was causing the problem – overheating – and then fix it. I got it back yesterday and set it up this morning, only to find the keyboard won’t work. There’s a keyboard installed, it’s just not my keyboard. It’s REALLY difficult to enter details of a new keyboard without a keyboard for input.
As well as that, my phone has been on the blink for most of November. You might think that was a colloquialism, but it’s actually literal. My phone screen has been blinking intermittently making it almost impossible to see what’s on the screen. It’s still under warranty but they wouldn’t consider replacing it until they had proof that there was a problem. Because it’s intermittent, it never happened when I had the phone in the store, so I videod it a few times. They’ve now requested a replacement phone for me which should arrive mid-week.
You’d think that would be enough technological problems for a while, but no. My pen that works with my Surface, dropped off the desk. The stylus was broken so I replaced it with one of the others but I’ve never been able to get them to work. It’s less than a year old, so under warranty, but I didn’t think they’d replace it. I told them it had been dropped but they didn’t argue about it at all, just needed to see the receipt, then gave me a new one. That will get installed tonight.
Hopefully that will be all for those sorts of problems for a while. I don’t have that many more gadgets that could have problems. I’ve probably just jinxed myself, haven’t I? I’ll wake up tomorrow to find my iPad broken and my Surface sending me strange messages.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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