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EditingFebruary 29, 2008

I'm reading a book.

The main character is remembering cuddling with her grandmother in Scotland as she learned to knit:

In the afternoon, they'd rake up the coals and get the heat going in the small stove, sitting in just their socks on the two-seater sofa.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Naked grandmother. Naked six-year old learning to knit in the cold Scottish winter. Just socks. That might not be what the author intended.

Maybe I'm just super-hyper-conscious about what I want to avoid in my own writing. I think I'm an okay writer. It's definitely what I want to do; it's my passion. While I know most of the rules, I know that I tend to ignore them or just steamroll right over them sometimes out of laziness -- you see that all the time on this little blog.

I'm hip-deep in this novel rewrite. No, more like neck-deep, and OHMYGOD I'm such a bad, horrible, shockingly terrible writer sometimes. Truly. Many of my sentences are much, much worse than the one quoted above. Adverbs just fly. I was writing a romance! I let myself break those kinds of rules, and now I'm slightly horrified. I dunno. Some parts I like. Other parts I think don't deserve the recycled paper they're printed upon. Upon which they're printed. Sigh.

So I'm just about done with the rewrite of the novel, but now the hard part happens -- I've made all the line-edits and written most of the additional material by hand, but starting this weekend, I'll be putting those all into the computer. That might take just about forever. I think I'll make myself work three hours every day off until it's done. And then I'm going to kiss it and send it off and get to finishing the next one.

Yep. And I'll wear just socks while doing it.

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Comments

Sex-AYYY! Lacy socks, I hope.

It's funny to read that you are so dreading inputting all the changes and stuff -- sometimes that's my favorite part of rewriting.

My first thought was that the stove was sitting on the sofa, wearing their socks. Seemed like a fire hazard to me.

Don't you mean "wear just socks"? Heh.
Please don't make me sleep on the couch.

Edit this!

"Cedar Hill woman dies after being shot at home with children."

I read your post earlier, went trolling the internets for political news, saw the above headline in a Dallas newspaper and thought about you. Had to share.

"don't deserve the recycled paper they're printed upon" ???
Printed? Is the novel about to be printed? I can't wait. I CANNOT wait!

I read that book just last week and that particular passage gave me the giggles, too. The kid and her grandma hanging out in the altogether -- Yikes!

Oh dear. That's the kind of book I read really really really fast, hoping I won't notice.

That's what editing is for. To cut out the writing that isn't good. Certainly doesn't make you a bad writer. Makes you a good-er writer.

What kind of socks . . .

I'm with Grace... I want details. :) But, seriously, this kind of book drives me to distraction. I simply can't read it. And all for the want of an editor.

Is that what I did wrong when learning how to knit? Just the socks. I'll keep that in mind.

; )

Oh, my gosh, I can't believe you said that because several of my friends and I just finished reading that book, and it was our general decision that the editor should be fired! It was so choppy, and so many times you'd have to go back to clarify what had happened. It made me crazy. It must have been been rushed, though what the rush was is beyond me. Bad, bad book!

Cudding? I had no idea Scottish women were ruminants.

This is a dangerous door to open my dear!

I'll just politely request a picture of you typing your manuscript as you "wear just socks".

cudding ruminants

Just "got it"!

* snort *

I'm reading that book right now as well! Actually I just started it yesterday so I haven't gotten very far yet....but great minds think alike.

You go, you editing fiend you! You can do it. I'm 12895 words into the editing of my NaNoWriMo and am hoping to get more done in the next week. I'll think happy thoughts for you!

Brrrrr! I'm adding layers on as I type... may have to plug in the heating pad. Just socks. Those crazy Scots.

That Friday Night Knitting book needed some editing for length, for pete's sake -- I couldn't finish it.

Go, you, with your novel work. And be glad you're in California where you could probably get away with just socks at this time of year!

Like Kiyomi (2nd comment), I was struck by the image of the stove "sitting in just their socks", as that clause is misplaced. My inner former-editor cringed. Then picturing the narrator and her grandmother in just their socks, my inner child giggle-snorted!

Well you see, I think what's missing here is the knowledge that Scottish women do not get naked. Highland Scots are even less likely to do so.

If one has this knowledge, then in "just their socks" clearly implies that their shoes are off, but nothing else.

You're welcome.

I enjoyed this book - but didn't get this passage either. I chose not to picture it - but now after reading your post and all the comments - I fear it is forever etched in my brain...

ewwww

Good plan! and what will the reward be for finishing it? yarn perhaps? A yummy yummy yarn? Or ice cream? Mmmmmm....

Ah yes! I have a distasteful task that I have promised myself I will do in two-hour increments over the weekend. Two hours, and then I can watch one of three movies and knit. Then another two hours...

Same mental image here - gee, thanks! But it has been worth the chuckles. Personally, I'm about to go put on another layer while the snow is flying outside.

I guess I won't be reading it. Poor editing drives me batty! I find I spend more time and energy correcting each sentence in my head than actually reading.

Oh, yikes! That makes my blood run cold. Whenever I've done any editing, I lie awake at night worrying. There's nothing worse than having the client come to you after the print run and say, "My 13-year-old son noticed this bad subject-verb agreement on the back cover..."

Giulia
KnitFree
Pebbledashed


Post the evidence, baby. But they better not be Walmart socks. We're a fussy audience.

I was taught to truly write by the crazy old 300 lb. German man who served as the adviser on my high school newspaper. I was the copy editor so he loved me. He was absolutely anal about that sort of thing and would make you re-read your sentences over and over until you understood what was wrong with it (if you didn't, he would call you an asshole and whack you on the head with a rolled up newspaper). I seem to recall one lead that he read as a disembodied fetus floating into a science classroom. Needless to say, I consider intended vs. perceived meaning very carefully when I write or read the writing of others.

Yes, Toni is quite correct, that would mean 'no shoes or slippers'. However, we Scots are a hardy race and if you've ever been out in Glasgow on a Saturday night in winter, you'd know that strappy sandals, short skirts and no coat are de rigeur, even when it's below zero. So Granny knitting naked in her hielan' hame is theoretically possible - pity I can't ask mine!

I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who dislikes this book! I picked it up at the store and read something about the main character's fiery red hair and flashing green eyes.*

Yuck!

I was approached by the publisher to do a blog tour for the book. I had to politely decline. I counter-offered with a blog tour for some of the other stuff they're publishing. William Gibson! Charles Stross! Penguin Classics, including a re-release of Kafka's works! Haven't heard back from them, but hey you never know.

Have you considered asking a third party to give your book a once-over before sending it out? Many times a fresh pair of eyes will be able to catch logical inconsistencies such as naked grandmas.

*The site's down, so I can't look up the original quote. But it was something to that effect.

Ah, here we are. It was the "long, chestnut curls" that did it.

Unless at least one of those adjectives is an important plot point later on, I don't want to hear about it. If it turns out that the entire plot hinges on her hair being curly, someone let me know.

(It wasn't just that, of course. It's that absolutely nothing happens in the first 54 paragraphs. By which I assume that nothing much will happen in the rest of the book, either. Otherwise the author would have gotten right to it. It's basically 54 paragraphs of adjectives; barf.)

I'm reading that book, too, and that exact same line annoyed me to no end. A lady at work lent the book to me because there's knitting in it, but it's definitely not my usual choice. It's okay, though. Kind of like reading a movie. :)

Rachel, the naked grandmother and the atrocious editing made me laugh out loud at the start of what I know will be a difficult work day: one of those "You make my day" moments. Thank you, thank you.

OK...I read that book a year ago, husband bought it for me for Valentine's Day, he thought because it had to do with knitting I would love said book. Well, I loved it because he bought it for me, BUT other than that I thought it was a poorly written (and edited), predictable story. Then to add insult to injury I was in the Denver airport this weekend and saw the paperback version, now available, with New York Times Bestseller emblazoned across the front! Too many of us starving for books where the heroines we all want to be is a knitter. Unfortunately this was not that novel. Give me Jane Austen any day!

Hmmm....
That is pretty funny. I read a book recently by a well-known author who I really really like, but the editing was just awful. It was enough to make me want to put the book down. Mostly it was typos, but there were a whole lot of other things too including an entire paragraph or more missing. I can't believe it slipped through. And I'm not a writer, but having recently written my Master's thesis is probably what put me on the defensive...

For goodness sake, DON'T do "Upon which they're printed." Maybe some english teacher told you not to end a sentence with a preposition, but the rule is just wrong. In the language that people actually speak it's "the paper they're printed on." I think someone once criticized Winston Churchill for ending a sentence with a preposition and he responded, "Quite right, that's something up with which I cannot put."

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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