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A Trip Down Memory Lane

June 12th, 2015

free_895142-blogThanks to Margaret for last Friday’s post – the point that she makes about letting your work ‘rest’ before sending it out to publishers is a really important one.

It’s amazing how many flaws you’ll spot when you come back to it after a break. You’re seeing it with a fresh pair of eyes (and probably more objectively). It’s not just about the plot and structure of your novel/short story but also whether your characters look and behave in a consistent way. It’s about the style – picking up on problems in grammar, spelling and punctuation – and making sure that what is clear to you is clear to your reader without over-explaining anything or patronising them.  A tall order – I’m sure you’ll agree –  but something that has to be gone through if you hope to interest a publisher or agent in your book. And even more essential if you hope to self-publish, as you won’t have the resources of the ‘big boys’ behind you to proofread and copy edit your work to eliminate mistakes.

This quote from Zadie Smith – author of White Teeth – always makes me smile: Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would!

Are you old enough to remember working on a typewriter rather than a word processor? Unfortunately, I am! I learned touch typing on a manual machine and had to thump the keys hard to get anything out of it. Then onto an electric machine – oh the joy and ease. Now, what would we do without all the tools our word processing packages have to offer?

The first typewriters to be commercially successful weren’t invented until 1868 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Very soon Remington and Sons (then famous as a manufacturer of sewing machines) got in on the act – the rest is history. And fiction wasn’t slow to seize on the potential of the typewriter. Sherlock Holmes in ‘A Case of Identity’ became the first detective to crack a case by examining a typewritten script. “It is a curious thing, that a typewriter has really quite as much individuality as a man’s handwriting. Unless they are quite new, no two of them write exactly alike” he said. I wonder what he’d make of Siri?

The last British typewriter was made only a couple of year ago but they seem a lifetime away from their offspring that we use today.

My guest next week is Mike Greenhough, winner of our recent Limerick Competition, who’ll be looking at the subject of comic verse – or whatever you choose to call it!

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