I had no planned post this week. Not enough thoughts on any topic for several hundred words. No splendid photograph to feature for “Silent Sunday.” These assorted thoughts will have to do.
In the garden, old familiars are showing their faces, after a fall and winter of extremes (way too much rain and a brief period of intense cold right after Christmas). But there’s trouble in paradise: hellebores formed buds early in the warm, wet fall. They made it through the cold snap, but now they are blooming on ridiculously short stems. I don’t know if the plants will produce normal bloom stalks this spring. Worse, something has been eating the little stems between flowers and stalks, leaving buds and flowers lying on the ground. I don’t know if the culprits are birds, bugs, or rodents. I’ve never caught them in the act.
At the writing desk, the WIP is approaching completion. I’ve absorbed the suggestions of beta readers and incorporated some of them. I’m nearly finished what was intended to be a final read-through, but since I’ve made a few significant tweaks, maybe it’s a “pre-final” one. Something I’ve been doing this time around is making use of Word’s text-to-speech feature. After combing through a chapter, I highlight half a page at a time and listen to Word’s robot voice read it back to me. This is a great way to pick up on overused words and sentences that don’t sound right. After adding, deleting, or moving text while editing, I listen to the sentence or paragraph as a final check.
I’ve noticed some things about that robot voice. Odd pronunciations, for example. The abbreviation “Dr.” sometimes becomes “Drive,” even when it’s attached to a medical person or a professor. “Bow” is always pronounced like the act of bending from the waist, even when it’s a weapon. Commas produce a pregnant pause, but em-dashes have a speeding-up effect. Single-word sentences of two- or three-syllable words or names invariably generate a slight suggestive emphasis on the final syllable. In some contexts, that sounds spot-on, but most of the time it’s just weird. On the whole, though, the robot voice is a helpful tool. And no, I haven’t given her a name.
Finally, I’m doing an accidental re-read. In relation to the WIP, I wanted to check a scene I remembered from a novel read long ago, in which a character has a disturbing experience in the New York Public Library. After a bit of thinking, I remembered the book’s author was Peter Straub, and a bit more thinking retrieved the title: Koko.
I found the scene I wanted, but then I got sucked into reading the book again. It’s been
years decades since I first read it, so it’s almost like I never have. It’s a long book–more than 500 pages. I read a few pages at the end of the day, so it will take a while. In the meantime, the TBR pile languishes…
One of the reasons Koko is so long is because Straub makes sure the reader gets to know the main characters really well. It’s almost like a real life experience hanging out with them, hearing the way they talk, and getting into their heads (which isn’t always pleasant). Point of view shifts between scenes, and is always excruciatingly close third person.
I first read this book before I started writing fiction. Reading it now, as a writer, I appreciate Straub’s techniques, which adds to the reading experience.
All right, that’s it for now! Back to the WIP and the springtime garden!
Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed these days? Or running out of blog ideas?