Nov 27

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Oh dear – not again.

It’s started again.

I’m writing emails in the voice of my narrators.

This is what happens when you write too much first-person fiction.  Actually, scratch that.  This is what happens when you just write too much, since I have dire memories of when I was writing Horatio Lyle and my emails kept coming out in the style of an east end thief, and it was all ‘so, editor, where’s the loot?’

Sometimes it’s tiny things.  An email complaining about a ‘dearth’ of equipment instead of ‘not enough stuff’.  A note inviting consideration of an idea, rather than thinking about things.  Its worse when I write historical stuff.  (Me?  Writing historical stuff?  Did I say that?)  At least with present day there’s decent odds that all that will happen is an increase in linguistic precision.  Or in the case of Sharon Li, a decrease in linguistic precision.

Hell – writing Sharon Li!  I have a lot of emails in my sent message log from those times which began with ‘oi oi, soggy brains!’ and built up to their like, totally oratorical climax and that.  I didn’t really have this problem when writing Swift, since at the end of the day his main character trait is a problem with pronouns, and sure, I’m suggestible, but I’m not that suggestible (we think).

And it’s fine!

It’ll be fine.

I’ll finish the book and this problem will pass.  It’s not even a problem!  My present narrator is perfectly capable of turning a decent sentence without causing too much offense.  The problem is, my present narrator, in the interest of historical accuracy, is also capable of turning four perfectly decent sentences at great and waffling length – with little diversions on the way about this, and mullings about that, all finely judged, naturally, because this narrator is nothing if not chippy – when one sentence would do.  Every time I write a sentence of less than twenty words I feel a pang of guilt – but that’s okay.  Because it’s not about doing an accurate portrayal of how a character would speak in [insert century here] – it’s about doing an okay impression of how we think they might speak, which remains still something we can tune our ears too.

It’s just a little unfortunate that, having got my ear in gear, I can’t get my email out of it.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.kategriffin.net/2013/11/27/oh-dear-not-again/


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  1. Rebecca E

    For goodness sake! Just be a sesquipedalian and proud!

    I am! ^_^

  2. anna_wing

    Fewer than twenty words.

  3. Larry P.

    I would like to say that your posts are entertaining. I am glad to have gotten in on Your web site this early, before you get bored with it. I go to some web sites and they haven’t been updated for ages. Reading your posts are like reading short stories. When I read one of your book I feel like I am traveling around London with you. Being American means my knowledge of England and Europe is minuscule. Keep it up. Larry

  4. Kelley F

    Here, here, Larry! My spirits are always lifted by reading your posts – regardless of which voice happens to be tinting them. “Author, novelist, scribbler…” had me walking around with an enigmatic smile on face for the rest of the day.

  5. AdrianH

    Oi oi…
    Sorry, I’ll resist the temptation.

  6. AdrianH

    Well, that was weird! There was a lot more following after ‘…temptation.’, but it just vanished, and now I can’t remember exactly what I wrote.
    And it was full of sparkling wit and erudite observation on the human condition that is forever lost to history!
    ‘Twas ever thus…

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