Posts By jimlewis

Free preview of Sins of Omission

I’ve just uploaded the prologue to my forthcoming novel, Sins of Omission, a story based on real events in North Florida in the 1950s and 60s, but as current as today’s headlines. Get your free copy of the brief prologue that sets the story in motion, or read more about the novel.

I’ll be releasing updates to my mailing list as we near publication and will publish at least one free chapter before the release date, so download your free prologue and join the mailing list today. (No salesman will call.)

Debasing the language

At lunch today, I sliced a tomato after removing a sticker reading “Home Grown.” To me, this means grown in someone’s garden, although I wouldn’t mind if it were grown in a farm with its own market. This tomato came from a commercial farm somewhere near here and had traveled through a distribution center before reaching the grocery store of a large retail chain where I purchased it. So much for homegrown.

The bakery within this supermarket has racks filled with “home baked” loaves of bread, cakes, pies, and cookies, none of which will have seen a home until I take it there. Why do we debase our language in this way?

Is it because we are “unique” or “exclusive,” two terms that are often misused. Being “unique” beats being “rather unique,” I suppose. WNEW Radio in New York used to advertise itself as being “unique in all the world,” by which I suppose it meant “totally unique” or even “uniquely unique.”

There’s so much of this, it makes me “nauseous.”  I have nothing “farther” to say on this, but I’m “definitely certain” you may. If so, “write me.”

The book is off to the line editor

My first novel, Sins of Omission, is in the hands of an editor. I’ve done three revisions on my own, helped by two software programs and a word-by-word edit using Mac’s text-to-speech tools. All that plus reading the thing for what seems like the umpteenth time to see if it hangs together.

Along the way, I’ve uncovered inconsistencies, leaps of logic, and sections in which I’ve left too much to the reader’s imagination. I’ve also found ponderous passages in which I’ve described how a character gets from Point A to Point B (or even Point C) rather than merely placing him (or her) there.

Version 4 beats Version 3, which is better than Version 2, etc. But I know that fresh eyes are going to discover more and find many things that just don’t work.

Here’s hoping that the result will find its way into print (or what passes for it in our digital world) and that you will soon be in a position to read it.

Editing? Let your computer read to you.

One of the best ways to edit your writing is to read it aloud. A member of my writer’s group suggests an improvement on the technique: have the computer read to you while you follow the text to check punctuation.

Both Mac and Windows operating systems have this feature under “accessibility” options. On the Mac, you simply highlight the text you want to review, press Option/Escape, and follow the text as you hear it read.

Additional tip for Mac users: “Samantha” is a more human-like voice than “Alex,” the default. You can change this under Accessibility/Speech options.

The value of writer’s groups

Earlier, I posted about The value of critiquing the work of others. Two weeks ago, it was my turn in the barrel. The South Pittsburgh Writer’s Group critiqued the first two chapters of my WIP, Sins of Omission. I got some attaboys–“Thanks for the correct punctuation,” and “An interesting story that I will buy when it comes out”–but also nearly a dozen suggestions.

Three members returned my Word draft with typed comments, questions, and suggestions in the margins. It was very helpful and showed me several things that they could see, bringing fresh eyes to the work, but that I could not.

I wasn’t able to make changes immediately–I had two direct mail projects to complete–but the delay allowed me to process the suggestions in my mind, separating the wheat from the chaff. Given two weeks in which to reflect on the advice, I made substantial edits over the past few days to structure, word choice, and characterization, plus a slew of minor edits. The results are a much improved opening and a more clearly defined secondary character.

Many writers come to such sessions looking for praise rather than direction. I’ll have more to say on that in a subsequent post.