Through the Looking Glass

No, this post has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland. It has to do with editing, and my exasperation with my own verbal (textual?) tics. I know we all have them – those words and phrases we use over and over, that we rely on lazily as filler or meaningless ‘beats’ to break up dialogue. But having done a fairly quick couple of rounds of revision on my 2011 title Surface Tension, I’ve realised how pervasive some of mine are, to the extent of feeling embarrassed at what I put my poor editor through.

Late last night, in a fit of frustration with myself, I composed the following blurb for Surface Tension. I think this sums it up nicely:

Once, there was a girl and a boy and a lake between them.

They looked at each other. They looked up. They looked down. They looked out across the lake and the water and the smooth, still surface. They looked to the horizon and the distance. They looked back at each other.

They expressed their mutual affection for words such as though, actually, just, you know, somehow and anyway.

“Anyway,” said the boy, “The lake is actually just smooth and still.”

“Yeah,” agreed the girl. “Though it’s somehow not, you know?”

They did some diving and discovered they were both right.

And they looked at each other.

What else was there to do?

The end.

The book is actually moderately more interesting than this. I swear it. And now, after vigorous editorial intervention, it features 50% less looking. Though the eagle-eyed reader may spot some staring, gazing and peering.

You have been warned.

2 thoughts on “Through the Looking Glass

  1. normanjorgensen

    Sounds an awful lot like the plot of…

    On the bank of the river
    Stood Running Bear
    Young Indian brave
    On the other side of the river
    Stood his lovely Indian maid
    Little White Dove was her name
    Such a lovely sight to see
    But their tribes fought with each other
    So their love could never be

    Running Bear loved Little White Dove
    With a love big as the sky
    Running Bear loved Little White Dove
    With a love that couldn't die

    He couldn't swim the raging river
    'Cause the river was too wide
    He couldn't reach the Little White Dove
    Waiting on the other side
    In the moonlight he could see her
    Throwing kisses 'cross the waves
    Her little heart was beating faster
    Waiting for her Indian brave

    Running Bear loved Little White Dove
    With a love big as the sky
    Running Bear loved Little White Dove
    With a love that couldn't die

    Running Bear dove in the water
    Little White Dove did the same
    And they swam out to each other
    Through the swirling stream they came
    As their hands touched and their lips met
    The raging river pulled them down
    Now they'll always be together
    In their happy hunting ground

    Running Bear loved Little White Dove
    With a love big as the sky
    Running Bear loved Little White Dove
    With a love that couldn't die

    🙂 xxN.

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  2. Meg McKinlay

    Don't be silly, Norman. I don't bother with things like plot. It's all about the gazing. Actually, I'm very familiar with that song, but not because it has anything to do with this book (which is probably a very good thing).

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