Sampler Platter

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Some time back, I posted a tasting flight of shorter works by important authors, in the interest of giving readers a way to decide whether or not they liked a particular author enough to go on and tackle one of that author’s signature doorstop volumes.  Now, as a follow-up to that round, here’s another quartet of shorter pieces by authors of important longer works.

Henry FieldingJoseph Andrews.  Tom Jones is the doorstop (and well worth reading for its own sake); Joseph Andrews is the short one, written in response to that other blockbuster of the eighteenth century, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.  Richardson’s novel featured a virtuous maidservant who attracts the lustful attention of her employer, Squire B, possibly the world’s most incompetent rake.  He tries everything, including abduction and a fake marriage, but never works himself up to doing the actual deed; meanwhile, Pamela steadfastly holds…

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The Secret Pulse: National Poetry Month

Originally posted on ~ fran wilde ~:

Antoni Austen, Low Tide After a Storm, 1892, Salon des Champs-Elysées 1892 Antoni Austen, Low Tide After a Storm, 1892, Salon des Champs-Elysées 1892

“We want what the woman wanted in the prison queue in Leningrad, standing there with cold and whispering for fear, enduring the terror of Stalin’s regime and asking the poet Anna Akhmatova if she could describe it all, if her art was equal to it.”
Seamus Heaney, Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture

They give us one month, a singular set of days, to remember we are poets at heart.

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Three Nifty Links and a Brief Reminder

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Commas are important tools in the ongoing struggle for (and sometimes between) clarity and euphony – so important that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, even more than most punctuation marks, commas are pretty much a local-option kind of deal.  The conventions for comma usage vary from one language to another, as I learned to my sorrow back in the days when I was learning Old English and working with a lot of OE texts that had been edited by German scholars and therefore punctuated with German punctuation.  (It’s a mark of where I learned a particular language and how I mostly used it that my rudiments of German are mostly stuff like “The following forms appear only in the dative plural,” while my fragmentary Spanish runs mostly along the lines of “Do you have Tylenol in drops for infants?”)  Comma use also varies from one century…

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Springtime Seasonal Special

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

From now through the 11th of April, in honor of the arrival of new growth and brighter days, my usual rate for a full line-edit and critique drops back to $1000.  Furthermore, you can purchase a gift certificate for a friend or colleague at the seasonal price, to be redeemed by the recipient at whatever future date they find convenient.

Sample Spring Gift Certificate SmallPic

The gift certificate comes in the form of a .pdf file suitable for printing out and enclosing in an envelope, or putting into a gift-wrapped box.

(And if the person the gift is meant for happens to be you—that’s perfectly fine with me.)

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Shaking the Tambourine

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

It’s that season again . . . time for one of my semi-regular posts where I clear my throat nervously, point at the “About” link in the header, and let people know that I offer editorial and critique services for a reasonable fee.

(It’s been a long hard winter, with all the household expenses that a long hard winter always brings.  Because I’m a hardworking Dr. Doyle, I’m doing my bit to keep the electricity and the internet flowing.  Wherefore I also point, discreetly, at the tip jar link at the bottom of the right-hand margin.)

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Peeves of the Day

jamesdmacdonald:

And it’s “sleight of hand,” not “slight of hand.”

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Because hoo, boy, am I feeling peevish at the moment.

Peeve the first:taught versus taut.

Taught is a verb; it’s the past tense of teach:  Jack taught Joe how to tie knots.

Taut is an adjective, meaning stretched or pulled tight, the opposite of slack:  Joe pulled the line taut.

Peeve the second: Will somebody please ask all the budding fantasy writers out there to stop having their colorful secondary characters speak in generic rural bumpkin/hearty seafarer/urban rogue dialect while their main characters speak in standard English?

Honestly, writing dialect is difficult (and problematic) enough when you’re dealing with an actual known real-world example.  Most of the time, dealing with a made-up dialect only compounds the problems.  (The usual “if you’re a stylistic genius with a golden ear” exception applies, of course.  But most of us don’t qualify for that one.)

And that’s quite enough peevishness…

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“It’s a House Name,” Tom Said Frankly.

jamesdmacdonald:

“My frog is dead!” Tom croaked….

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Franklin W. Dixon.  Carolyn Keene.  Victor Appleton.  Familiar names, all three, as are their literary creations:  The Hardy Boys.  Nancy Drew.  Tom Swift.  How do these authors manage to have their names on such long-running series?  (The first Hardy Boys adventure appeared in 1927; the most recent just this past February.)

The answer:  these authors are all house names.  That is to say, the name is a pseudonym that is owned not by the writer of a particular book, but by the publishing house, thus enabling the house to hire different writers at need for the series, or to have more than one writer at a time working on different books.

Frank and Joe Hardy (and Ms. Drew, and Tom Swifts Senior, Junior, and III) were creations of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, and their prolific adventures were made possible in part by the detailed outlines which the syndicate provided to…

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Ursula K. Le Guin Gets Her Snark On

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

She read a New York Times interview with Kazuo Ishiguro about his forthcoming novel, The Buried Giant, which takes place in a non-historic just-post-Arthurian England, in which the author frets that his audience will say that it is fantasy.  (To be fair, it contains. among other things, a dragon.)    And she was moved to speak.

I’ve said this here before, and I’ll say it again:  One of the things I respect most greatly about Le Guin is her steadfast refusal to disavow the genre.  More than one author, upon attaining literary respectability, has stashed their propeller beanie and their Spock ears in the far back of the closet . . . all honor, then, to the ones who don’t.

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Today’s Bit of Amusement

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Over at The Toast, “How to Tell if You Are in a Logic Puzzle.”

Because heaven knows, Logic Puzzle Land has only a tangential relationship to Real Life Land.

Obligatory writing reference:  When constructing plots and figuring out character motivations, remember that Fiction Land generally strives to reflect Real Life Land, not Logic Puzzle Land.  There are a few instances where it’s closer to Logic Puzzle Land – the strict-form allegory, for example, or the roman à clef – but those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

(Now that I think of it, that’s a good way to distinguish between an allegorical work and one that merely makes heavy use of symbolism and metaphor:  If the workings of the plot and the actions of the characters appear to be taking place in Logic Puzzle Land, you’re probably dealing with an allegory.)

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Prep Work

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Today and the rest of this week are mostly all about getting ready for Boskone . . . getting all the necessary laundry done, formatting and printing out all the stuff for our reading (there are people out there who can read aloud off of their tablet or laptop, but I’m not one of them), getting out this month’s newsletter  (if you’re not a subscriber, you can become one via the signup link in the sidebar, and have the March issue show up in your mailbox when the time comes), and keeping a wary eye on the weather predictions for the next week.

If we’re lucky, Boston will have shoveled out from under its most recent snowpocalypse by this weekend, and won’t get another one while we’re there.

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