Time Passing and Dreyer’s English

I started this blog over six years ago to chronicle the experience of learning to write.  I knew it would be a journey, even though I believed myself to be a good writer already. (Ha!) I thought at the time it would be a process somewhat like getting a power boat up on a plane:  Plowing slowly through understanding structure and technique, reading the classics in my genre, learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Finally rising to the plane, where my writing would zip along.

To some degree, that is the way it’s been, although the plowing process has been longer than I expected. And continues ad infinitum, I think.

Along the way, I joined critique groups that have helped me immensely, though I often feel that my critique earns me a red-lettered ‘stodgy’ across my forehead.  Yes, my formal training took place a long time ago. Yes, I use Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White. But calling out an incorrect lie/lay or take/bring sometimes gets flared nostrils and a roomful of sighs. And we’re not even talking about the singular use of ‘they’ or the vanishing comma.

Pertinent to grammar and style, I just ran into what I think may be this generation’s style guide:  Dreyer’s English, by Benjamin Dreyer. It’s an erudite, clear guide to the way English should be written with an emphasis on clear communication, rather than hard and fast rules. Also, funny and fun to read. He begins by exhorting we writers to go a week without writing Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers like very, rather, really … you get the drift. We should all go many more weeks than one with very (oops) few of these.

Another thing I like about the book is Dreyer has been at this work for two decades. I think that gives him acute judgement about which changes in style are transient and which are here to stay. All in all, a fine book.  Who knows? I may be able to rub out that ‘stodgy’.

Fail Deadly, the Next Step: ß

I am almost finished with Alpha, soon to need Beta. Which is to say, I am near the end of the rewrite of my third novel, Fail Deadly.

The first draft was the easy part … six months on a roller coaster ride, wind in the face, screaming along the tracks of the plot. Unalloyed joy. Then began the hard part: Rewrite. I am truly fortunate to be a member of three critique groups, so the chapters have gone before a jury of talented writers. Line by line, character by character, week by painstaking week, they have stayed with the story. They are, in the parlance of writerdom, the Alpha readers. I am almost through integrating many of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of suggestions.

The next step is the Beta. The Alphas can’t do it — they’re too familiar with the detail. I will need several people willing to read the manuscript all the way through, looking for character flaws, plot inconsistencies. Or perhaps most valuable to me (as well as most painful), saying, “I got bored at page X and couldn’t finish.”

If you, dear reader are interested in being a Beta, let me know through Contact page or straight to gotuit5243@gmail.com.  I’ll have the manuscript in Word and PDF files, e-books in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as a few paper copies.