Monday, April 26, 2010

Editing and Fire Ants

Ack! It’s 5:00pm on Monday and I totally forgot to post. I’m becoming irresponsible. I know what’s caused it. Before I blamed it on Luke and Ariel’s finals, but maybe it’s not that after all.

I’m out of my routine. You see I just finished an edit on the murder mystery I’m writing and I’m taking a break. This edit ended up much more difficult than I thought. When I started this novel I decided to play with the concept of interior monologue. IM is the equivalent of hearing the character’s thoughts. For example:

Being devoured by fire ants would be a good way for Dr. Bad to die, Ariel thought.

Of course, the more talented/experienced the writer, the less often she (or he) would use the tag “Ariel thought.” For example:

Ariel shoveled the mound of fire ants. Being devoured by fire ants would be a good way for Dr. Bad to die.

This example would be better. No tag, yet it’s clear “Ariel” is thinking of ways to punish her Differential Equations professor for not putting up the answers to the study guide for the final even though it’s only hours away and he promised he’d do it long before the final. (Oops, I digress.)

Anyway, back to the issue. I experimented with IM. The novel is written is close third person (non-omniscient narrator) and in past tense. I decided to put the IM in italic first person present. Yeah. It was kind of cool until I realized it didn’t work.

For example: Ariel shoveled mounds of fire ants onto the body of her professor. She watched as they trailed up the streams of dirt, preparing to sting. I hope you learn this lesson, Dr. Bad.

See. It doesn’t work. Okay, maybe this example isn’t too horrible. But take my word for it—it gets very weird and annoying long term. Not to mention the fact that I have a macabre sense of humor. (Note: Ariel did not suggest this.) So I had to change all of the IM. I thought it would be easy.

It wasn’t. Altering verb tenses and point of view plays merry heck with your ear. I’d rewrite things and then be completely confused about whether I’d actually fixed it or not. After much grief and consternation, I finished it. (I think.) Now I’m taking a break and planting more plants, ripping out weeds, and repairing the drip irrigation. But tomorrow I’ll be back in “Writer Editing Mode” with my Post-It flags, my seven red pens, and my stacks of paper. And I’ll get my blogs posted on time—they are my editing stalls.


  1. I think he should be eaten by squirrels or processed into cat food.....ha.

    Grace Duke

  2. I think Ariel should send him multiple anonymous messages with angry threats of death. Psychological torture is much better than insect torture.

  3. Nah, Ariel should threaten him with various germs, that will be effective.

  4. Ariel could give him a poisoned teacher's apple. But the angry threats of death sound good too.

  5. I'll bet he misplaced those teacher evaluation forms also.

  6. "Oh, I got an F on the teacher's evaluation? whoops? but if you just add a line\ see! It sort of makes an A!"

    I bet that is how he got through!

    Grace Duke