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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Editing is Fun. Honestly!

The way Jan & I work requires a lot of editing, as I edit what she writes and she edits what I've just edited—especially my re-writes—and then we both edit the result. There is a lot of drudgery involved in editing as there is in most tasks, but there are also moments of unexpected humor....

It is interesting what difference a single word/letter can make. Take this example from The Key of Tanguroth, a yet-to-be-published novel in the Lindensaga™.  The phrase was to have been "...a large rose bush..." but the word "a" was accidentally dropped. This struck me as quite funny, and I ran with it, producing the following "out-take":

     “Hey, I thought you weren’t going to come to this little party!”
     Bip nearly jumped out of his skin and whirled to find Brandy standing beside him in the shadows next to Large Rose Bush. She was a good foot taller than her cousin, who was thus called Small Rose Bush to avoid confusing the one with the other, but both were quite comely lasses and willing.

Sometimes, a certain turn of phrase triggers deep memories and when one is writing fast, concentrating on getting a scene down, one writes not what one intended, but the triggered memory. That’s why we edit each other’s work. Again, taking from The Key of Tanguroth, here we have the Dwarf, Tarin, saying “I’m still here on a diplomatic mission for me king....”  A simple enough sentence that, but it triggered an ancient memory and what I found that Jan had actually written was, “I’m still here on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan....” You can imagine what that did to my warped brain....

     “Alderaan? I thought you were here representin’ your king. You know, the king of Sythra?” Bip said in confusion.
   “Harrumph! O’ course, o’ course. I meant to say that. I’m a dwarf from Sythra. Yes, that’s right.”
    “Tarin, you’re scarin’ me.”
    “Sorry, lad, sorry. I, umm, well, I just get a little confused meself. Ferget what movie I’m in and all. Y’know. The usual thing. Me agent keeps me too busy. And these shootin’ schedules are enough to drive a man, er, ah, dwarf, yes, dwarf, crazy.”
    “Tarin, I think you’ve lost your mind.”
   “Could be I have, lad. Could be. We done shootin’ this scene yet?”

This next one, also from Key, just came about as a natural result of using a comment very, very close to a famous quote from an equally famous movie about a little girl and her dog. It wasn’t until I actually wrote that sentence down that I realized how close to the original it was. I liked the idea, and consider it one of our “Easter Eggs,” i. e. references to or paraphrases of some of our favorite punch lines, movie quotes, etc. But at the same time, my mind was off and running in a very weird direction with the following results, but for some odd reason, Jan made me take it out.

    At last the spiralhorn finished drinking and raised its head, its attention drawn away from them and into the dark heart of the trees. It stood thus for a moment, its ears swiveling as though it listened to some call they could not hear, then it turned and faded soundlessly back into the shadows. 
     When it was well and truly gone, Bip remembered that he had totally forgotten to breathe and gasped convulsively. There was wonder in the eyes he turned on Brandy. The nobleman shook his head, for once speechless.
    “Brandy, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” Bip said in sudden realization that they had left their mundane lives behind and were now...somewhere else.
     “Nope, definitely not Kansas, Bip. Nor the Vale. By the way, Bip, just where is Kansas?? I’m not familiar with that place.”
    “And you the great scholar, Brandy. I thought everybody knew where Kansas was.”
     “OK, cousin mine, where is it?”
     “Why, you head for the second star to the right and then straight on ’til morning,” Bip grinned in triumph.
      “No, that’s the way to Neverland. Try again.”
      “Ummmm, beyond the beyond?”
     “Nope. Quote from Barani, that little genie that travels around in Sinbad’s lamp.”
      “Ah, yes. Wellll, umm, uh, two kingdoms south of Florin?”
    “Nice try, Bip, but no cigar. You haven’t a clue, do you?” Brandy said, grinning from ear to ear. “Trying to put on over on me, right?”
    “No, no. Kansas is real place.  Really.”
    “And?”
    “It’s, umm, north of Gond...”
    “STOP! Don’t say it! You want us to get nailed with a copyright infringement suit?” Brandy’s look of utter horror made Bip realize just how close to disaster he’d taken them.
    “Sorry.  OK, OK! So I don’t know where Kansas is. You happy now?”
     “Yup.  I just wanted to hear you admit it, that’s all.”
     They stood there in silence, enjoying the beauty of the forest and mountains around them. After a few minutes, Bip cleared his throat.
      “What?” Brandy asked.
      “Nothing.”
     “Don’t ‘nothing’ me! I know that sound. Go on, say it. Better out than in, I always say.”
       “You always say?” Bip said with some derision.
       “Well?”
       “OK, Mr. Flunking Scholar. Do you know where Kansas is?”
      “Well, I lied a bit earlier. I have heard of the place and as it happens, I do know where it is.”
        “Good! Where is it?”
        “Just south of Nebraska.”
       “Ahh! Well, that settles it then, doesn’t it? Great! Now we know where Kansas is.”
     “Yes, we do. Now, can we get moving?” Brandy said, and matched his movements to his words by stepping out into the stream.
        “Sure, Brandy, let’s go!” Bip followed right behind his cousin. They hadn’t gone far when Bip stopped suddenly, a look of consternation on his face.
       “What?” Brandy said in irritation when he realized that Bip had stopped.
         “Where’s Nebraska??”

I love to edit. I never know when some error or turn of phrase will strike my funny bone and send me off on an enjoyable tangent, even if Jan won't let me keep them in the book.


Monday, April 8, 2013

On Giants

Giants!

What does that word conjure up in your mind? Perhaps you see a very tall, bulky and awkward, perhaps even clumsy, humanoid. Very unprepossessing & slow-witted perhaps? Do Hagrid and his half-brother Grawp come to mind? If you are like most folk we have talked with about giants, that is precisely what you are thinking.

I think we have all had the same type character driven into our minds since we were children, from Jack the Giant-Killer to Brave Little Tailor and Farmer Giles of Ham. This certainly has been our experience and the trend has continued into modern fantasy literature (witness J. K. Rowling). There may be exceptions out there, for aught I know, but if so, I have not encountered them.

It was our feeling that Giants have been getting a raw deal, and so we decided to 'rehabilitate' them, if you will, in our stories. No big, slow, stupid, clumsy giants would show their faces in our books!

Big they are, certainly. Beldronnen, the tallest of the Giants of Linden, the world in which our stories are set, was twenty-three feet tall, and on average, our Giants are fifteen feet or so. Our main Giant character, Menannon, who in fact has a trilogy devoted to him beginning with The Last Giant: Transgression, is rather a very short Giant, measuring nine feet. His parents were normal, however, with his father, Gorlanndon, topping out at fifteen feet and a smidge.

Neither are our Giants dim-witted, not at all. Gorlanndon is, in fact, a very intelligent and educated person, an inventor and a very successful merchant. Mennanon himself is a very skilled harper and talented artist. Further, he is accounted an excellent dancer although there are very few women tall enough to dance with him comfortably save for the Teluri and some of the women of the People of the Long Ships who often run to seven or eight feet. He is accustomed to dance partners of six feet or less, however, as it was with ladies of that stature that he learned the art of dancing while an apprentice at the master guild hall of the Harpers' Guild in Aridion City.

You may also forget the usual ugly Giant. Menannon is a very handsome youth, very much like his father. His mother, Julianna of Lornennog, is a great beauty by anyone's standards. Handsome, articulate, talented, light on his feet, educated, wealthy, privileged: Menannon is definitely not your stereotypical Giant, and that is as it should be.

The Giants of Linden have other talents as well, talents of which few non-Giants are aware. As to what precisely those talents are, well, you will have to read The Last Giant: Transgression to find out.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Inaugural post

The MS of The Last Giant: Transgression, volume 1 in the Last Giant trilogy, is complete and will be undergoing the first round of joint editing very soon. After that, it will go out to our Beta readers for two weeks, then will come back to us for the final edit, which we do jointly as well. Then....off to the publisher!

The books moves around Menannon, who by the end of the book, is indeed the last Giant on the world of Linden. The 'transgression' referred to in the title is something that someone else does, and you can be sure that in time, there will be retribution.

You can find more information about the world of Linden at Golden Cocker Press and at Purple Mammoth Publishing LLC.

We write as a team. Jan writes the initial draft of a chapter, then passes it on to me. I edit it, by which I mean not just copy edit, but I chop, hack. move things around, add and re-write. There are times when the results don't look anything like what she wrote, but usually that isn't the case. It will have changed, yes, but not drastically. When I'm finished with all chapters, we move on to Phase II.

In Phase II, one of us reads the MS while the other listens. It is surprising what comes of reading a text aloud. This reading often results in some intense discussion and some major changes. One of the things that often pops up and becomes glaringly obvious is what we term a "continuity glitch." Things like a character leaving the island before he gets on the ship. It usually isn't that bad, but we can feel pretty stupid when we tumble to such a thing. It's like the "hand-no hand" slip-up in Boromir's death scene in Fellowship of the Rings (the movie, of course). Next time you run it, watch carefully when the camera switches back and forth from Boromir to Strider/Aragorn. When you are looking at Aragorn, Boromir has his right hand on Aragorn's left shoulder in a strong grip, his fingers clearly over the top and onto Aragorn's back. When the camera shifts so you are looking at Boromir over Aragorn's back...no hand, no fingers! Well, we can fix a continuity glitch easily. It's not so easy in a movie.

All right, with Phase II complete, off it goes to our Beta readers. We have a stable of marvelous readers who can be pretty savage if need be, and we rely on them to keep us on the straight and narrow. We let them have the MS for about two weeks, then we take their feed-back and go back to work. After we've addressed any issues brought up and possibly a few new things we've come up with, we leave it alone for about a week and move on to other things, like the next book.

After the waiting week, we once again go over it orally as before, then I give it a final copy edit. After that, she is done, and off to the publisher it goes.

The other half of this team has just announced that she has a cup of coffee about ready, so I shall sign off here, kick back and enjoy the java. Yrgacheffe, it is, and I love it.

--Richard