Working It Out Release Party—People Are Amazing

July 19, 2014

0 caterpillars
 
Kristen Slater, back again to bother you. This hour, I wanted to mention some amazing people I met while putting my story together. The editors. They took a caterpillar of a story and helped me make it into a beautiful butterfly. Not that there’s anything wrong with caterpillars, some of them are spectacular. But butterflies…. Whole new level of beauty.

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I’d no idea what to expect and when the first editor’s comments arrived I was equal parts excitement and apprehension. My goodness, they’re thorough.

All those punctuation changes—I write in British, but the Dreamspinner standard is US. That’s a big difference, right there. I found we don’t include anything like as much punctuation, and what we do is less formal. Then there were the differences in spelling and preposition use. In US English there are lots of words and forms we no longer use in the UK and which make the text sound very stilted and formal, almost like a legal document. A couple of times we had a disagreement where I felt the changes they wanted to make were simply wrong. They were not what my characters would say or think and, in fact, were US-specific usage—thus giving a US accent to my very British guys.

And that’s the thing about editing. It’s a dialogue. They make suggestions, you respond. Some things you agree, some things you reject and a whole lot of other things you have a discussion about before coming to a mutually acceptable position.

One word I got to keep was “afterwards”. In the US they say “forward”, “toward”, “afterward”. Here there is an “s” on the end of those words. This was the result of a discussion back and forward in which the editors accepted my preference. I conceded one where my word just didn’t translate. I described Joe as being “teasy”. Now, if you’re in the UK you know exactly what this word means. Not in the US. The first editor asked whether I meant “testy”, which led to this exchange.

Kristen: No, I meant “teasy”. “Testy” means irritable, in the early stages of what will become anger later. “Teasy” is like an over-tired toddler, possibly one who’s had too much candy and the sugar rush has suddenly worn off. Slightly tearful, a bit oversensitive, touchy, tired, whiny. There isn’t really another word for it, unfortunately. Well… unless… can you think of one?

Editor: edgy, easily irritated, touchy? I’m afraid in this case “teasy” is not going to be at all familiar to American readers. I would never have gotten that meaning from a word so similar to “tease”, so I don’t think context works well in this case. Usually it does, but not here.

Kristen: Well, that was fun! Half an hour with a thesaurus and a couple of dictionaries (plus the suggestions above) and I ended up with the slightly old-fashioned, but understandable (and rather wonderful) “querulous”. I was tempted to use the equally lovely “fretful”, but it’s not got the complaining element that the other does.

They didn’t confine themselves to these very straightforward, simple things, though. They also commented on the structure, identified key information that was either missing or in the wrong place, helped me see where the story slowed almost to a halt in one place and gave me hints that enabled me to fix that. There was great advice on style, too.

So, thank you to the amazing editors. If you want to see the results of their work, you can buy the story in the Dreamspinner store.
Part of cover of Working It Out by Kristen Slater
 
Remember, for a chance to win a copy and try a new writer for free, comment on any of my posts here today. I have a new question, or you can answer one of the previous ones, or even come up with a question of your own. Have you ever come across someone amazing? What made them amazing?

Here’s what the equally amazing blurb writers came up with
Celebrating six months with his boyfriend has Cas in a bit of a panic. Joe’s been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas just can’t get the words past his lips. A week before Christmas, he finally says them when a nearly fatal accident almost takes Joe, and Cas faces the possibility of losing the best man he’s ever known. But whispered declarations are one thing. Through a long, tough recovery both men must work out that love is more than words.

You can find me blogging on WordPress and tweeting as @Slater_Kristen.

6 Responses to “Working It Out Release Party—People Are Amazing”

  1. I’ve been fortunate to find many amazing people in my life, but I think compassion is what I find most amazing in people, perhaps because it’s really rarer than one might hope.

  2. Kristen says:

    What I’m always pleasantly surprised by is how polite and helpful teenagers and young adults are. The media here in the UK like to paint all young people as uncaring, aggressive and rude, even feral. Yet I consistently come across young people from all backgrounds who are exactly the same as I was. They know the social rules, they obey them and they’re *polite*. OK, it’s unsettling to have a twenty-year-old give up their seat for you (am I really that old?) but nice all the same. :)

  3. Sula says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from, with regards the differences between US English and the Queens English. As a Brit myself, who has read quite a few books from both shores, I was often confused about an American word and had to check up on the Web its meaning. Now I have a Kindle I can just highlight the word and the dictionary advises that (normally) it is a North American word and means such as such.

    I often confuse American friends with a word, slang or colloquial phrase, such as whinge, mucky pup, plaster, give me a bell, it went totally pear shaped…

  4. Kristen says:

    I know. I finally gave in and looked up what “biscuits” were, they seemed such an odd thing to have for breakfast. And I still have to stop and remind myself that someone isn’t naked just because they don’t have their pants on. And, oh my gosh, having an ereader has totally spoilt me. Not only can I look up a word and know it’s US or UK, but there are inbuilt dictionaries for French, German, Spanish, Italian and… er… Dutch. I read a printed book and catch myself tapping the page before I remember it doesn’t work like that. :D

  5. Susan says:

    I have an amazing friend right now. She has stage 4 breast cancer and is still upbeat and optimistic 99% of the time. She even listens to my minor complaints and empathizes.

  6. Kristen says:

    Wow, that does take a pretty amazing person. It reminds me of Jane Tomlinson, a woman from Yorkshire who was diagnosed with a recurrence of her breast cancer and given 12 months to live. In the next 6 years she raised nearly 2 million pounds for cancer research. She stayed positive right to the end.

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