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  • Advice from an editor turned author
    by sifter at 20:13 on 09 August 2006
    Hello everyone! Been a member for a while, the site looks great. I've not posted anything yet so I figured it was time to change that. Bouncing around the web today, I found the site of a writer called Kit Whitfield; her book has just come out, and she has a very nice website and blog to support it. She used to be an editor, and has posted a 'Lexicon' up there, full of useful style points:

    Points of Style:

    Velcro Hooks
    Small, arresting details, images, sentences or other things that snag the reader's attention and keep him or her interested.

    Letters To The Editor
    Taking the opportunity to gripe about pet peeves that have nothing to do with the story. If, while the hero is searching the streets for the man who will tell him the truth about what happened to his father, he passes a house done up in a style he doesn't like and he spends some time reflecting on tacky decorating, the author has inserted a Letter to the Editor.

    Worth having a read here: http://www.kitwhitfield.com/lexicon.html

    And for those who want to know, here's how I got there: shameless plug for my own blog
  • Re: Advice from an editor turned author
    by EmmaD at 20:20 on 09 August 2006
    Alex, welcome on your emergence from the shadows of WW, and many, many thanks for the Kit Whitfield link. I think this is even better than Turkey City Lexicon, for both laughs and shrewd analysis.

    Not that Turkey City Lexicon isn't great too: I added AYKB (= 'As you know, Bob', followed by a great, creaking lump of backstory or local colour) to my critical vocabulary immediately.



    I'm very familiar with the Phantonym and the Naglet, 'It's Okay Honey, I'm evil' made me laugh too much too read, while Narrative Capital is a really useful concept, whatever you're writing.
  • Re: Advice from an editor turned author
    by SarahT at 23:49 on 09 August 2006
    Completely agree about Narrative Capital. And I always find it easier to think about how you shouldn't do this writing lark, than how you should do it. It's a useful list and I am sure that many of these phrases will pop into my head at exactly the right moment to scare me away from some sort of ghastly hash. Thanks for posting it, Sifter!

  • Re: Advice from an editor turned author
    by sifter at 09:35 on 10 August 2006
    Thanks for the welcome Yeah, her Lexicon had me laughing in places, it's really well written. It did also fill me with dread though. I began to wonder just how many of the traps I had fallen in to - I'm currently editing some stuff, so find it was very timely! The first two definitions have become like compass-points for me: head for the second, don't end up at the first:

    The Slippery Page
    Unreadable fiction in which the eye slides down the page failing to take much in.

    Velcro Hooks
    Small, arresting details, images, sentences or other things that snag the reader's attention and keep him or her interested.

    The difficult thing is that since this is the fifth draft, I have such a sense of familiarity with the material that it's easy to think it's all 'slippery page'.... ho hum.
  • Re: Advice from an editor turned author
    by EmmaD at 09:56 on 10 August 2006
    Oh, I know. I've read pages of my Great Work over, and found at the bottom that I've been constructing a shopping list in my head all along. I think this Lexicon is brilliant, but the 'slippery page' example seems to me one of the ones where she's got her editor's not her writer's hat on. The only way you as the writer can stop finding even the best of your most deathless pages slippery is to put it away for ages. Then you get about two reads before it gets slippery again.

    I more and more find that there are a lot of good, important things that readers (even when they're also writers) say about books they read, which aren't the least use to a writer. I suspect one of the things that makes agents and editors good ones is that they can somehow translate their readerly observations into something the writer can get to grips with. (Though the ability to strike mega-deals does not harm either)

    And I just adore 'Too Sexy for This Dungeon'!!

  • Re: Advice from an editor turned author
    by Nik Perring at 11:00 on 10 August 2006
    Welcome to the site, Sifter.

    Great link with some real gems. Thanks for posting.


  • Re: Advice from an editor turned author
    by Account Closed at 21:05 on 17 August 2006
    me really liked...

    The Well Said Fallacy
    The automatic assumption that something is well executed because you agree with its morals or message. The cry of 'well said!' is fine to praise someone for saying something that needed saying, but should never be confused with 'well put'.

    The feeling you get when you're searching for the perfect word: that there is a word for this concept that's not in the thesaurus, but you can't quite remember it. Usually this is not the case, and you're forced to go with a word that's slightly wrong, or else rewrite the whole bloody sentence.

    like the other day i wanted to describe that look that people give when, say, you say something that you think the person knows, but they say they don't, so you say something to hint at the thing, and then they look at you as if to say 'i still havent got a clue what you're on about' - what is that look? it's not really 'baffled' or 'confused', is it? i ended up just saying something lame about 'eyebrows hitching up and the mouth pursing into a mordant puck' and then supplement this with 'signifying continued ignorance' ... yuck!... ya gunna tell me there's a word for it now, arent ya?