Learning by doing.

I could never look at Charlton in the same way after watching this scene. I still think that he made a big mistake. I mean, Dude! It’s a monkey. I don’t care how long it’s been!

Walking home after work today, I felt like I’d achieved something. I’m coming to realise that this self-publishing lark is a bloody time-consuming and involved process. A veritable labour of love. It is so much more than jotting down what’s in your head and uploading it to Amazon. It’s all about little steps and they need to be celebrated – if one wants to remain sane – hence I put an extra sugar in my hot chocolate tonight.

I’ve just finished my final, final proof-reading-then-computer-version-updating-emailing-the-document-to-Amazon-to-have-them-ping-it-back-to-me thing of my second Romney and Marsh book. So I now have the first two in the series on my Kindle awaiting my attention. For the record I will be reading them on the device with a hard copy next to me and any alterations or corrections that I feel I need to make I can record them on the hard copy with a highlighter and then do the whole process once more with feeling.

I have mentioned here previously the value of proof-reading using various and varied outlets. It helps to bring a new and novel perspective, something that one needs when one is reading a book for maybe the fifth time or more for errors that one missed in previous readings.

I’m still learning about writing as well. I mean the physical presentation and arrangement of my output as much as anything. All I’ve done in the last few weeks is ride the merry-go-round of edit and proof-read and update and do it again. (The only ‘new’ writing I’ve done is this blog.) And the whole revision process, while at times I would have to admit has been pretty tedious, has also been really educational. This might sound less than encouraging to any would-be readers of my books (I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to read the work of people who have some mastery of their craft before they write a novel and expect me to read it) but even with the final drafts of the books ‘finished’ (inverted commas because they are never, ever finished) I still was not sure about/comfortable with the way that I had chosen to layout the text. I need to clarify that for myself.

My biggest issue, specifically, was paragraphing where speech was concerned. I think that I’d been educated to conform to the model whereby one writes a bit of something and when a character then speaks a new line is started. When the character stops speaking a new paragraph is started. But I’ve realised something over my reading years that jars when I’m reading; that interrupts the flow of the reading experience for me and I don’t like it, so I have changed my layout so that I don’t do it. When I re-read my stuff it now flows better, I think.  Here is an example of what I’m talking about.

The Old Way

‘What do you reckon? Holiday snaps?’ said Romney.

Marsh was disappointed not to have stirred something more in the DI. She had amends to make.

‘Might not even be Emerson’s. Could be his son’s. If he ever stayed over here, this probably would have been the room that he slept in. Better check it out, anyway.’

He wrapped it in the little plastic sack, handed it to Marsh and checked his watch.

‘There doesn’t seem to be anything here. Come on. They do a very nice bacon sandwich and proper coffee at the De Bradlei centre in the next street. We’ve just got time before we meet the girlfriend, if we get a move on.’

The New Way

‘What do you reckon? Holiday snaps?’ said Romney. Marsh was disappointed not to have stirred something more in the DI. She had amends to make. ‘Might not even be Emerson’s. Could be his son’s. If he ever stayed over here, this probably would have been the room that he slept in. Better check it out, anyway.’ He wrapped it in the little plastic sack, handed it to Marsh and checked his watch. ‘There doesn’t seem to be anything here. Come on. They do a very nice bacon sandwich and proper coffee at the De Bradlei centre in the next street. We’ve just got time before we meet the girlfriend, if we get a move on.’

It’s a personal thing, I suppose. I could be breaking writing conventions (just to clarify, I don’t ever have two people speaking in the same paragraph. I’m not that reckless.) But I don’t care. Plenty of authors create their own writing style. They must have their reasons. Some don’t even put inverted commas around speech, choosing to indicate that someone is speaking by italicising the font. By the way, I’m not saying that I’m a pioneer in this. Others write like it. Better authors than me.

Something else that this ‘style’ allows me to do is to dump dozens of ‘saids’ and the like. If I were splitting up those paragraphs into the old way I would definitely need more ‘saids’, but keeping it all together I don’t.

In a previous post I also mentioned that I was changing all my qualifying adverbs into ‘saids’. I’m not going to explain it again here. It’s just down the page a bit if you’re interested. But I’ve also gone further. I had a lot of ‘saids’ following the speech. Example,

‘What is that stink?’ said Romney, sniffing loudly.

Too many. It was boring me to read them all. I’ve changed a lot of that sort of thing to something like below.

Romney sniffed loudly. ‘What is that stink?’

Again, I prefer this. It is a personal preference. I think that it makes the reading more interesting. Looking over the texts I would say that the reader has got to concentrate more, work harder at understanding who is speaking (or still speaking); who is performing what action. Is that a bad thing?

I wonder – am I making any sense today?

I’m also in a good mood because I stayed late at work under the pretence of sorting out some fresh straw for the monkey enclosure tomorrow, but really I printed off the first hard-copy of the third title in the series. I’ve not read it all the way through yet and, like shagging someone for the first time, I’m really looking forward to it. (Didn’t think that I was actually going to write a whole post with nothing rude in it did you? I don’t like to disappoint myself.)

 

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