Friday, 17 August 2012

Hello Children Everywhere. Are you sitting comfortably?

I have always liked listening to the radio ever since the days of Children’s Hour. Sometimes I think I would miss it more than the television. Recently I was listening to the program “Quote Unquote”
It began with
You write each novel to correct the failings of the previous ones”
As I have just been preparing to upload the very first novel I ever wrote – a light Rainbow Romance for Robert Hale called Lonely is the Valley - I have a fair idea what the speaker means and I hope I have corrected some of my faults in the books I have written since.
 I admit to the faults of repetition of some words and the use of too many adverbs and adjectives. Three of the many words I try not to repeat too often are suddenly, just and that. Since I wrote my early books we are fortunate to have modern technology as an aid with the “find and replace” buttons on the computer. Sometimes I have searched for “ly” – the ending to most adverbs – and I have been dismayed to find so many. In the last chapter of his book “On Writing” Stephen King declares we do not need adverbs and adjectives. I can’t agree entirely – far more prolific and successful writer though he is - but his advice has helped me review my own writing with a fresh perspective.

Then there is the maxim “Do as I say – not as I do”.
How often are we told to read our work aloud? I’m afraid I never do. Now I know I should. Recently I received the audio book of the first full length saga I wrote - Fairlyden. I don’t usually listen to my own work because I know what happens but it is many years since this one was first published. Also it is read by Nick McArdle, the first male reader I have had for any of my audio books. I was curious to hear what sort of a job he made. I have to say he was excellent, performing all the accents from broad Scots to broad Yorkshire, as well as the more precise speech of the gentry and even the child. I am delighted with his reading andt it was a very long novel. Listening to it I realise now I ought to have ended the story two thirds of the way through at a point which could have been a very happy conclusion. I would have seen my mistake if I had read aloud, or recorded it, myself. True it would have affected the three books which followed in the series but that could have been rectified if I had realised my error in time. 

Finally as a writer of romantic fiction a quote from Horace (I think). Is this a true reflection of romantic love?
“With you I’d love to live
And with you I’d gladly die.”


  1. Oh yes.....I so agree with that quote. I have come to the conclusion that one doesn't know how to write a novel until one has had to edit one to an editor's brief.....gosh, what a learning curve that was for me.
    I have yet to receive my book in audio....and irony is not lost on me that there is to be an audio version because, alas, my hearing isn't up to well, hearing it.
    I've heard others say what a wonderful job the reader has made of their novels in audio....professional actors most of them so I'm told. you say, Gwen, however many novels we have published we are constantly learning, constantly on the job to make the next one even better.
    Really good post...thanks.

  2. Thank you Linda. You are so right, I don't think we ever stop learning - a bit like mothers and babies, then the grand children come and they are different again. So it is the way fashions in books have changed.

  3. So many interesting thoughts here. The way novels/fashions change, the oversue of certain words and adjectives/adverbs (oh yes), the idea of listening to your own novel so many years later - and the lovely quote. I do like that.

    Thanks for making me think.

  4. Gill - my dear Latin student! You always think. In my case it is too easy to fall into a rut so I need a jolt sometimes.

  5. Really interesting post, Gwen. I'm so guilty of overusing certain words including just. I have managed to reduce the number of times I use 'that' since my supervisor on my MLitt course started taking what he called his 'that-ometer' to my work. It was astonishing. In one chapter I'd used the word over 300 times. I've recently been proof reading my non-fiction book about Afghan women, which has additional chapters, and noticed a huge difference in the style of those three chapters compared to the first section which was previously published. I don't know if it is an improvement but I hope so.
    I don't object to adjectives and adverbs as logn as they are not overpowering.

  6. I expect we all have our pet words, Mary and we never even notice until they are pointed out. I find a need for a few adverbs and adjectives too but I use them more sparingly than I used to do.

  7. Nice blog, Gwen. I listen to a lot of audio books and how they are read is crucial. You do also get very sensitive to things that jar on the ear.

    Heaven knows what I would think of my early work now!

  8. I know the feeling Jenny and sometimes cringe a little. On the other hand you are passing your own baby into someone else's arms for their treatment with an audio book. I understand why some writers do not want their stories made into films during their lifetime in case there are too many changes. Also it makes me cross the way some people try to delve into the minds of dead authors and discover things THEY think must be there. How can they know!

  9. I've just proof-read my first novel for publication and found it virtually impossible to see all the errors/typos etc onscreen, whereas with a paper copy they leap out at me. I'm also a writer who doesn't read their prose work aloud (poems are shorter) but it's on my 'to do' list for the next one as I've just found some gaping errors I missed.

  10. Don't worry Kriss - we all "See" what we think we ought to see when we have written the story. There would be no jobs for editors if we all supplied perfect manuscripts so we can only do our best. I do agree though that it is easier to see mistakes on paper than on screen.

  11. An excellent post, Gwen - I recognise those three overused words in some of my writing! I expect we all must improve and learn as we go along (I hope).

  12. Yes I guess the quote is probably a true reflection of romantic love.

  13. Thank you Rosemary and LindyLouMac. I expect we all have our good and bad points as in life - I did so want to use "just" as in life. I enjoy looking through quotations - always have, even at school.

  14. Interesting and consoling blog - thanks Gwen. It has made me work my way through my manuscript, Silent Trauma, that I'm editing at the moment in readiness to publish as an eBook (my first). My problem is that I over-use certain phrases rather than words. I notice some of your comments have mentioned audio books - something you've done yourself. Could you let me know how you organized this, please