Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Writing Dreams by Andy Scheer

I planned to write this first thing Monday morning—expecting that would mean about 8 a.m. Instead I sketched it about 2:30 a.m.

It made sense to jot some notes then, because I'd just been dreaming about writing.

Actually I dreamed about editing, but it morphed into aspects I could teach to writers.

No, I didn't eat anything strange before bedtime (unless you consider pilot crackers strange). But I had spent an hour that evening reading a recently published general market novel—one I had edited for the author six months earlier.

I struggled to stay inside the story. Instead I kept looking at details of the craft and hunting for changes the New York house had made to my work.

In my dream an editor called me to task for something I'd overlooked. In this paragraph I allowed the same word to be used three times, when the author could have made the point more effectively with synonyms.

Guilty. In my list of problems to address while editing, that one doesn't rank at the top. And in the novel's first paragraph, the final editor had corrected one instance I failed to catch.

So I'm adding that to my list of points to teach others and to apply myself. It won't happen again—in my dreams.


Jeanette Levellie said...

You are funny. I like that dry wit.

I must admit that using the same word more than once in a paragraph is one of my pet peeves, and I see it occasionally in my own writing--for shame.

What are pilot crackers? If they help me edit better, I'll eat some before bedtime, too.

Andy Scheer, Hartline Literary said...

Pilot crackers are also known as hard oyster crackers, pilot biscuits, ship bread, ship biscuit, sea bread, and hardtack. (My favorite is OTC--Original Trenton Crackers, which are almost impossible to buy in
Colorado.) Here's a url for a recipe in case you want to make your own:

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Those dreams can really stick with us, though it's rare I take notes from a dream! Those multiple uses of the same word in a paragraph are often hard for writers to catch. All the more reason to appreciate editors who are on the ball, like you!

Rick Barry said...

From a linguist's viewpoint, I'm interested to note how the English word "the" can appear multiple times in a paragraph, yet remains invisible unless truly abused. In the Russian language, we have no word for "the." Yes, Russian has "this" and "that," but no "the," because for them "the" is invisible to the point of non-existence. The meaning is simply understood. This is why Slavic immigrants to the West so often insert "the" when it's not needed and leave it out of cases where we naturally insert it.

Sorry for the divergent thoughts! I simply find words fascinating, both English and foreign.

Andy Scheer, Hartline Literary said...

Similarly, that's why the best word in a dialogue tag is always "said." It's virtually invisible, while the alternatives aren't.