greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,
greygirlbeast
greygirlbeast

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the faithless daughter

We made it halfway through The Dry Salvages yesterday, me reading it aloud from a copy of the ARC and Kathryn following along in another. How many times do you have to read a ms. before all the frelling typos and grammatical errors are found? There are literally hundreds of errors in the text of the ARC, mostly missing commas. And yes, this is the "uncorrected proof," but it's also what the reviewers read, and it annoys me that it isn't cleaner. Anyway, this latest round of picking over the story isn't even about this sort of correction (though we're still finding these sorts of mistakes). It's about continuity and trying to get all the science right. The extremely non-linear narrative and the narrator's unreliability is only making it more difficult. Hopefully, we can get through the last 60 pp. or so this afternoon.

I feel sick. Not sick as in I think I may be coming down with something. Sick somewhere deep inside that I can't reach. The dreams are bad again. Last night was the first halfway decent sleep I got in at least a week, and even it was filled with the dreams.

Anyway...

Vicky Gashe wrote to ask:

[in The Dry Salvages] The two droids that Audrey mentions - Othniel and Edward Drinker - are named after dinosaur hunters. I know of Edward Drinker Cope, and I recall him having a rival called Charles Marsh (or at least I think so). To whom does Othniel refer?

Easy peasy. Othniel was Marsh's first name.

Kenny Soward writes:

I have a technical question regarding the telling of backstory, specifically tense.  For instance, I’m narrating a scene (using third person past tense) and there are snippets this individual recalls from say a week ago. I’ve noticed that different writers tend to take a different approach to this. 

1) They bombard the paragraph with “had gone”  “had removed” etc., so that you absolutely know this is a memory or past event you are describing.

2) Some writers simply do a section break in the chapter and remain in the third person past tense.  I’ve seen you do this before.

3) Many writers will start their recollection with “had gone” “had removed” for perhaps the first sentence to let you know this is a memory, but then quickly revert to third person past tense.

4)  Strangely enough, I’ve seen writers not change tenses at all, leaving it up to you to realize what it is.


This is one of the reasons I almost always write in present tense. If nothing else, it usually completely eliminates the need for the use of the ever-clunky past-perfect tense and the constant, annoying, and unsightly repetition of "had" ("had had" is one of the grand sins of prose). The present of the story is told in present tense — "Eponine opens the door and looks into the darkness." Any recollections, including backstory "flashbacks" can now employ the familiar and non-clunky past tense. "Eponine opens the door and looks into the darkness. Once, she was afraid of the night, and would never have faced it alone." But, if you simply must use past tense as your foundational tense (the effective "present" of your narrative, even if the events are long past), be consistent. The "trick" of reverting to past tense after a few establishing "hads" have been tossed about is lazy and is to be avoided (as are all lazy short cuts in writing). This is my advice.

Kid Night last night was marred by the absolute worst movie we have ever, ever, ever rented, a little speck of dren called The Fanglys. Boasting all the skill and production values of public access television, it's an inexplicable sort of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wannabe. We've never come so close to just skipping to the second DVD of the night. It wasn't scary. It wasn't funny. it wasn't so bad it was good. It was just boring. I think that it'll spend a few seconds in the microwave before we return it. Anyway, fortunately, we followed The Fanglys with Robert Parigi's ambitious and moderately effective Love Object. It wasn't nearly as good as it wanted to be, and the ending just sort of collapsed in upon itself instead of expressing the irony it aimed for, but at least it tried, and was shot on actual film, with actors, and a script.

It's the frelling weekend, kiddos. Haven't you got something better to do than read my blog?
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