Thursday, April 09, 2009

Review: A Dance in Time by Orna Ross

ISBN:978-1-944-88053-9 (Penguin Ireland, 2008)


An epic biography of figures famous and familiar woven into an autobiography of a mother written with "corrective" footnotes added by a disrespectful daughter.  Wonderful in its reality, A Dance in Time is chock full of characters you'll love and some you'll hate but not a single one who is not vibrant and alive.

But [then] Dolores dies.

I found the opening scene astonishing due to real life reflection complete with my [used to be] strawberry hair and my daughter's maddening "talk to the hand" attitude.  The book never read like fiction.  It held me fully in it from start to startling finish.

Monday, April 06, 2009

toward or towards - that is the question

Which is it?  Toward or towards?  Both are considered correct. They are often considered interchangeable, but are they?  According to the pundits, toward is more common in American English whereas towards is preferred in Britain.

Main Entry:
          Listen to the pronunciation of 1toward 
          Listen to the pronunciation of 1toward
\ˈtō-ərd, ˈtȯ(-ə)rd\
Middle English toward, from Old English tōweard facing, imminent, from tō, preposition, to + -weard -ward
before 12th century

1also to·wards 
          Listen to the pronunciation of towards 
          Listen to the pronunciation of towards \ˈtō-ərdz, ˈtȯ(-ə)rdz\ [Middle English towardes, from Old English tōweardes, preposition, toward, from tōweard, adjective] a: coming soon : imminent b: happening at the moment : afoot

Personally, towards makes me cringe.  To me, it seems too weird.  How do y'all feel about it?

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Sometimes the only way to liven your prose is to hit the delete key hard and often.

The first step is to highlight all of your PET phrases and paragraphs.  You know which ones.  The ones that made you pause and thing, "Wow, what a great writer I am.  You may need to delete them.  Not because they are not good, but because they are often beautifully written author intrusion.

How many characters do you have?  How many do you need?  How many wonderful scenes can you give to a single character to eliminate two or three "walk-ons"?  Too many characters, no matter how fascinating and well-defined, can bog down your story.  Save some of them for another book.  You do plan to write more, don't you?

Although an excellent tool for description and dialog, adverbs in exposition are the death of active fiction.  Shakespeare might have said, "Out damned adverb," before rewriting it to "Out damned spot."  Before I cut over 40,000 words from my book in progress, I used the following sentences. #1 In the kitchen, Melissa giggled softly.  Revised, it reads - Melissa giggled.  #2 "Daylight then," Kathin conceded firmly.  "You can finish it after your morning chores are done.  Now, get upstairs."  I think it is obvious from the dialog that she was being firm.  Or, at least I thought so after I forced myself to delete over 4000 adverbs from the manuscript.

Deleting hurts.  I know.  Deleting words and sentences you've slaved over is excruciating, but if I can do it so can you.  Whether I ended up with better novels will be decided by you, the reading public.  Meanwhile, I have concise drafts that interest the dickens out of me.

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