Random Harvest 10

The last few weeks have seen me ploughing on with editing my novel, meeting friends for chats with one crucial spin off applicable to my editing, weird weather changes, reaching out to long distant family for the very first time, and finally getting my hands on some pussy willow stems. So with all this, it just has to be a ‘random harvest’ post this week.

First up has to be the novel editing

What an intense process it is! And yet, strangely satisfying. I’m concentrating mostly upon the continuity of fictional ‘facts’ and information given which is crucial to the understanding and feasibility of the plot, as well as the other usual suspects: reading out loud as I go to test the rhythms, word order and flow; looking for obvious grammar mistakes and missing quotation marks for dialogue; paragraphing and structure; cutting down on excess description;  overall readability, with chapters ending on a hook – a sharp one or a soft one.

But the two most significant aspects have been structure and continuity of grammar choices, so I’ll explain what I mean:


After Black is a biggish novel, but will be just under 150,000 words. It started out with a three part structure with appropriate turning points and climaxes to each part. But even allowing for the generally held belief that part 2 can be around 50% of the whole (those writer’s rules!), during the reading I realised there would be greater benefit in creating more parts to do justice to the whole. So it now has a 5 part structure, which actually only took a little tweaking. So I’ve consciously flouted those writers’ rules to hopefully help the potential reader not to feel bogged down and to want to read on. I think it will work well, and it’s a satisfying outcome for the vital stage, and critically flexible mindset, of editing!

The GRAMMAR CONTINUITY has taken the most time and methodical slogging away at.

Basically, it applies to any word, group of words, or mini-phrases where there is a permitted choice of grammar alternatives and you have to pick one. Then of course, if that word or phrase pops up again in the writing, you have to stick to that same choice throughout. And this means you have to record the choices you are making as you go along. So I began a list and watched it grow! And what this list forms is a list of adopted ‘conventions’ that have been chosen.

Here are a few examples:

Time can be expressed in numbers or words. So is it 2pm or two o’clock? I actually picked words for outside of Janet’s working world, but numbers during her working day to imply the pressure of more exact time-keeping. I might have to change this and have full continuity throughout, but I like like this for now.

High Street or high street? If the name of the road is called high street, you use capitals. If you’re saying, ‘I went down the high street’ and you simply mean a main street in a town, then it’s lower case.

Historical periods. Unless you are referring to a period in this way: during the Victorian Age, or the Edwardian period was…where capitals are used, you use lower case for most other contexts eg a typical victorian country cottage, an edwardian feel to the room.

And a whole lot of annoying little ones like:

ice cream OR ice-cream

getting close up OR a closeup

custom mades OR custom-mades

next-door neighbour OR next door neighbour

up to date OR up-to-date

Just one tip to end this ‘writers trivia’ with: where there are a few connected words forming a distinct meaning, then if they are being used as an adjective, they are usually hyphenated, but if they are operating as a noun or come after a noun, they stay separate. Eg an up-to-date version of windows was needed to bring the computer up to date.

So there – fascinating or what?

Next is the chatting with a friend which threw something up I had overlooked in my writer’s research

I don’t want to go into details for potential spoiler reasons, but I had to do quite a good chunk of research into aspects of life in the fifties for the novel, and I thought I’d covered everything I needed for my character’s situation, for authenticity, and for the plot. So this point essentially applies to weaving realism into fiction and fiction into realism. The realism obtained through the research has to be there, but it must only support the fiction rather than dominate it. So in one scene I felt free to make a fictional assumption and happily wrote on, incorporating this premise into the most critical plot thread. I had no reason to doubt my assumption through not having come across the particular issue in my research or my own life experience. But hey, I got it wrong! And it was only through a randomly connected conversation with my friend as we ate cake and sipped our cappuccinos that I realised it. And it was a big deal! So when I got home, I dug around in google, and I had to dig deep, but now the correction is made and that tiny part of the plot is duly adjusted together with where it crops up later in the narrative. Whew! And I suppose this a lesson to remember!

Now onto the weird weather…

 In February we had two days of hot mid-summer bliss here. People were basking in landscaped parks having picnics. People were wearing shorts and T-shirts. People were eating ice creams and swimming in the sea. People were worried about the birds and the bees – the bees would be buzzing too early without their usual blooms to plunder and the birds would be nesting too soon. After that we had more warm and sunny days. ‘Drat’, I thought, ‘this isn’t the right time for this. I’m not ready for it yet. I should be staying in editing. I need to be inside, closeted in my creativity. This sun is far too soon!’

But the sun pulled me out, as it usually does. I cast off my scarf and hat, put away my boots, and thought – ‘okay, over to summer clothes, then!’ I got the garden ready for spring, I went on some walks, I took my bike for a ride. Then the winds picked up and blew themselves into gales, the gales blew bins over and tree branches collapsed onto roads, and then it rained, then it snowed, and so back came the scarves and boots. I mean, for crying out loud, what’s a girl to do? So this struggle continues, and I feel ridiculously sensitive to it all. But thankfully, I’m not alone. Just after those two mid-summer days, a friend said to me,  ‘I hated it!’ Yay!, some validation. Always like a bit of that ;>) But why this antipathy? Well, I think it’s because we’re so finely tuned over here in the UK to the shifting weather changes through the seasons, and the seasons themselves. Maybe that’s why everyone seems to talk about the weather and obsess over it? It’s pretty obvious these changes have a far more powerful effect on our moods, our nature, and our life rhythms than we can ever fully appreciate in a world hell bent on control. But Mother Nature will always have her way and who are we to argue with her?

Long distant family reach-out

After the death of the aunt I’ve told you about in a previous post, I was acutely aware that my sister and I were all that remained of our ‘clan’ in the north. (And yes, Game of Thrones is coming into my mind right now ;>)) Should I try and contact the estranged cousins I have living in the south, telling them about my aunt? Should I make contact as ‘me’ for the first time, where my last memories of them are from the 70s, when we were all children playing on a beach somewhere and eating crab sandwiches? But all I could glean was one address. Would that person still be there?  Without going into too many details, our family split into two – as families often do – but usually the reasons for the rifts die with those who created them. If so, why can’t we move on from there? So after spending an industrious day cleaning, I seemed to work up the resolve, and sent a letter to that address. ‘I’ll regret it if I don’t at least try,’ I said to myself. ‘After all, this is just between me and them now.’

Well, I have had a reply, which quite stunned me. So we shall see where it goes. I guess the point is, that it can be worth the effort just to know whether that family door you may think is closed forever could actually open by a chink. What have you got to lose?

And finally, pussy willow stems…

…available in slim bunches for Mother’s Day in the local supermarket and grabbed by me for a certain purple glass vase in my bedroom window. I’d made up my mind that only these would do, and indeed they look quite fetching. Now I have to wait to see if they survive drying out. Will those catkins stay fluffy? Will they drop off? Time will tell! And naturally, you won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve been spotting catkins stippling willow trees everywhere now. The brain often carries on with the hunt long after the quarry has been captured, I find. Don’t you?

(top pic is an Arthur Rackham illustration, both pics courtesy of pixabay)





About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Writer's blog: lynnefisher.wordpress.com Art: lynnehenderson.co.uk Twitter @writeartblog Writers page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnefisherheadtoheadhearttoheart/ Artists page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnehendersonartist/
This entry was posted in Nature, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Random Harvest 10

  1. galenpearl says:

    Just a quick note to say that family stuff has kept me away from my favorite blogs lately. I enjoyed catching up. And I LOVE pussy willows!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Libby Sommer says:

    seems like you’re doing a terrific job with editng your book, Lynne. very thorough. wow! 150,000 words. a huge project. good luck and wishing you much success with your project.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lynne, I love your Random Harvest posts! It’s like a guided tour, with a lot of interesting stops. So much good stuff here: I enjoy editing, and solving all of those grammar puzzles. It’s especially fun when I’m not writing on deadline:) Sounds like you are making great progress. I’m happy you got some good help from your friend. Sometimes it just takes another set of eyes or ears to make things come together. I’m thrilled you were brave (perhaps not the right word, but something like that) enough to reach out to family, not knowing what might happen if anything. I hope that all turns out well. We’ve had crazy weather here in the states, too. One day 77, the next 37. I like a nice loooooong spring, not going from winter to summer. And pussy willows! Aren’t they lovely?!? Wishing you a good week of more editing and lots of joy. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Hi Cheryl, so pleased you enjoy the random harvests, they can make a nice change for me from the more weighty posts! Regarding the grammar, it can be interesting and tangents often present themselves, and it all adds to the knowledge we writers have to absorb in this respect. I keep a list of the common ones I forget though, and I find myself investigating whether words are hyphenated or not all the time! I also find that if you’re not careful you start to question so much of what you already know – if that makes sense.

      Well that weird weather is more widespread that I thought. Makes you wonder what is going on and what will happen in the future.

      No more lengthy reply yet to the ‘shout out’ to estranged family…I’ll leave it there for now. It’s in their court, as they say. At least I’ve scratched an itch that I’ve had for years. Yes, it kind of felt brave, but perhaps more ‘forward’ . I consulted my 80 year old me, while I was vacuuming (weird connection!), and decided – just do it. I’m consulting my 80 year old me quite a bit since I did a post on that subject and the kind of perspective it suddenly brings seems to work very well!
      You have a great week too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderfully newsy post, Lynne, I’m loving this! First up the grammar part – yech! English is such a mobile and alive language unless you are on the ball constantly you tend to fall behind. I fell off the ball when I gave up teaching. Still, I constantly find myself proofreading other people’s posts simply because they have misspelled words (often down to missing the ever so helpful auto-correct insertion), incorrect grammar, awkwardly constructed sentences or rambling inconsequentialities….. I do this while knowing as a writer I am every bit as given to all the crimes I’ve just mentioned and my comments are often just long rambling streams of consciousness that James Joyce might have been proud of…… Like this one for instance 🙂 Joyce didn’t use emojis of course……. I wonder what he would have thought of those…..

    Any hoo – writing a novel and then going through the proofreading and editing and fact checking bit must be one of the hardest jobs going. I so admire (and I’m sure we’ve had this whole conversation before) book writers and their dedication to getting it right. I have purchased books that ended up in the bin after a few chapters, due entirely to poor editing and ‘filler’ rubbish and am very careful where I spend my book allowance now – hence my enormous admiration for those writers who do the hard yards. I’m looking forward to reading your book 🙂

    I love what you said about family warfares dying out with the protagonists. I so hope the response you received that stunned you was a good stun, a hopeful stun, an uplifting stun and that you can all come together again. I always love a happy ending.

    The changeable weather patterns are a global thing I think. Down here it’s always been anybody’s guess what will happen on any given day. ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ has been our national cry for forever (Crowded House are an NZ group) but now it seems we might be moving towards a second showing or at the least a re-run of the four seasons by lunch time. Discussing the weather has moved from phatic communication to the distribution of important information.

    Pussy Willows are such a wonderful sign of spring and they are an eyecatching delight. I used to go hunting for them in my youth down by the river and fill a big clay pot by the front door with them. I’m glad to hear you are doing the same hunt. I don’t see so many now I’ve moved closer to Antarctica.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      So pleased you enjoyed it, Pauline! Yes, the more you delve into the english language and the vagaries of grammar, the more convoluted it becomes! As for James Joyce and emojis, well he probably would have loved them, but he might well have used many contradictory ones in a row ;>) Your perspective as a retired teacher on reading poorly edited books with bad grammar, and not being able to tolerate the reading, is quite heartening in that it makes one want to get it right or at least to do as good a job as possible – in other words the effort is worth it. In my experience, with former teacher acquaintances or teacher relatives, there seems to be an entirely appropriate dislike for what I’ll call ‘school boy/girl’ errors, and proofreading seems to come entirely naturally to them, though it may slow down their reading. But in the writing, thank goodness it comes near the end of the process!

      Well, whether or not there will be a happy ending with the potential coming together – time will tell. Nothing overwhelming so far, but I’ll let you know. If nothing else, I’ll know I tried my best, and then I’ll let it rest (and the rhyme seems fitting!)

      I was wondering what the weather was like where you are…whether the variables are as fluctuating for you. But you’re right, it does seem to be global from what I’ve picked up on from the news (and some of it fiercely destructive). I love your NZ saying…As for the move from small talk (your phatic communication) to information warnings to prepare oneself, to batten down the hatches action, that’s certainly on the rise too! Thanks for expressing this ‘one extreme to the other’ reaction, I’d never thought of it that way before.

      The stems are doing well and I’m pleased you had your spell of enjoying them! I’ll be looking for a variety of them now. Always something new to see and learn about nature.

      Many thanks for sharing, Pauline, and I’ll be over to see what you’ve been up to recently :>)

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s