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The right way to view self-publishing

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Steerpike, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    I'm glad that we came back to this because again it depends on how a mistake is defined. Is an incomplete sentence a mistake? Many will say yes. But there are times when I purposefully write an incomplete sentence for artistic reasons. I do this more frequently since traditionally publishing because I can get away with it. When you are self-published, the incomplete sentence is more likely than not seen as someone who doesn't know what they were doing or didn't pay attention when editing. When it is is done by Cormac McCarthy it's "cutting edge prose." It's that whole you're allowed to the break the rules thing...but you can't determine if the reader will know it was a "rule break" or a "I didn't know the rule existed."

    Also most readers (even those that claim that they see all errors) really don't. Take this example.

    "I won't go with you," Sarah said, and walked out the door.

    But if someone saw it written as:

    "I won't go with you," Sarah said and walked out the door.

    Would they notice the error?

    What about

    "I won't go with you," Sarah turned and walked out the door.

    Also wrong. In this case it should be "I won't go with you." Sarah turned and walked out the door.

    What about

    "I won't go with you," She said, and walked out the door.

    This is wrong as it should be "I won't go with you," she said, and walked out the door.

    And also

    "I won't go with you." she said, and walked out the door.

    Which of course is also wrong.

    When you consider the amount of dialog in a book and the wide range of errors that can be introduced then 2 - 3 errors for an entire book is a standard that I don't think most professional editors can live up to. There isn't a book I've read that hasn't had these kinds of errors so when I count, my # of errors is probably much higher than others. Most won't see these and therefore it doesn't turn up in their "error count."
     
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Michael,

    Don't want to turn this into a writing rules discussion, but I'd love your opinion on this:

    In the sentence above, the author combines a speech tag and a beat. I'm of the opinion that the tag portion is simply wasted words. Since the quotations marks indicate speech and the beat tells the reader who is speaking, inclusion of "said" is poor craft. Yet I see a lot of published works that do this...
     
  3. I'm no Michael Sullivan, but I think I can answer this. The "Sarah said" is technically redundant insofar as the phrase "Sarah walked out the door" lets you know who the speaker was; but the function of "Sarah said" isn't only to convey the speaker's identity. It can affect the pacing of the scene, for one thing, or the impact of Sarah's action of walking out the door. It can emphasize that Sarah was saying those words in a normal speaking voice as opposed to letting the reader try to guess whether she was angry, bitter, calm, bored, etc. It can affect the reader's perception of the narrator's mental state. Maybe the narrator is self-involved and not paying attention to Sarah's verbal cues. Etc.

    By itself, I don't think you can assume that those words are wasted. It would have to be in the context of how the author typically renders such phrases. Do they ALWAYS include an "X said" in such situations, or only sometimes? And so on.
     
    Steerpike and Svrtnsse like this.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, I'm with Benjamin. The way it is worded gives a certain character and impact to the sentence. I like it. So while in general you might say that combining a tag and a beat might be avoided, in a particular instance you may well want to combine the two to make the sentence read a certain way. It's not poor craft, it is done to achieve a certain effect from the sentence. You could take out the tag, but the sentence is going to read differently and it's not wrong for an author to decide they don't want it to read differently.
     
  5. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Haha - I wasn't using this as an example of craft - it was merely a demonstration of punctuation grammar rules.
     
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