Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In the land of Shakespeare, who probably never had an editor.....

I'm in Wells. This is totally my spiritual home. Four bookstores on the main street, not to mention one of the great cathedrals. I went to Evensong -- I'm completely unreligious despite, or perhaps due to, being raised Catholic, but I do love Anglican choirs. Anyway, the dean of the Cathedral recited a Hopkins poem, which I am able to post because even in the countryside of England, there is wireless, and Google, and blogger:

Pied Beauty

    GLORY be to God for dappled things,
    For skies of couple-color as a brindled cow,
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches' wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
    And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
    All things counter, original, spare, strange,
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
    Praise him.
    Gerard Manley Hopkins
I so want to live here. I love Wells.

Of course, I'm pretending I'm Canadian, so that no one blames me for the economic crisis. Not that they'd hold me responsible, I hope. I don't even have a 401K.

I remember I actually had some editing thought to share... but too much ale, I fear. The pubs are national treasures here. There's a lovely local ale-- Great Spotted Hen. In the US, that name would be changed by the marketing people. :)

Okay, I think I wanted to ask, when do you decide that something is a thought (of the point of view character) and not just part of the narrative? Do you put it in italics? How about present tense? Examples, please?

The pound is exactly $2. So why do I buy something that's five pounds and think, oh, that's only five dollars? You can tell I haven't actually absorbed this new depression thing. Well, no one was talking depression when I planned this trip, so I'm going to spend like we're in a good economy.


Jean Wogaman said...

Alicia - Just be careful you don't exceed your vacation budget. It's probably best not to go shopping under the influence of all that delicious ale.

I tried putting my MC's thoughts in italics in my latest MS (3rd person limited POV), but then I saw that the italics had the nasty habit of leaping off the page before the rest of the text. I'm trying to work them in smoothly so as not to disrupt the flow of the narrative. I've even removed most of the tags ("he thought," "he wondered"). I've tried separating the thoughts into their own paragraphs, but I'm not sure that's necessary unless I want the thought to have greater significance than the passages around it.

I'd love to know what you think.

green_knight said...

Real Ale companies are in competition trying to come up with the weirdest names they can. Go into a supermarket and look at their choice; Speckled Hen is really one of the tamer names.

Leslie said...

We were in the Lake District and London in April. Enjoy your trip and spend what you need to spend. You won't regret it.

Anonymous said...

There is a German author, Peter Härtling, one of my favorites, who often does not specify at all whether something is "part of the narrative" or a thougth of the POV character. In fact, he so artfully weaves thoughts, memories, observations and "narrative" that he gently shifts from deep POV to an almost omniscient narrator all the time. It is marvellous to read, and it is still a mystery to me how he manages to do this so seamlessly.

What I want to say with this: perhaps it is not necessary at all to always differentiate between the two. Thoughts can be part of the narrative, and the narrative can find its way into thoughts. It may be better for the author to be clear about what he intends it to be, but if it is not clear in the text, the effect can be terrific (or terrifying, probably ;-)).

By the way, thanks for this blog - I learn more about the English language than any language class could teach me (you probably already noticed that I am no native speaker...)
Write on, I am a fan!

Anonymous said...

I thought I had figured out writing in thoughts that aren't actual thoughts (italicized). But I was told how I did it was "telling."

It almost seems to depend on the reader if the technique works or not.

Anonymous said...

I know in the editorial style of my company we try to avoid italicizing in fiction because the current trend seems to be to let it flow in the narrative and simply add tags to give the appropriate cues. It's often obvious what is a thought and what is not. However, because the trend in self help continues to be italicizing thoughts (and, in that case, it often adds necessary clarity), we continue to italicize thoughts in that context. I think the essential component is context. If the text has a difficult POV in which to differentiate narrative from thought, than italics might be helpful, but usually the most important component is consistency. The author should be aware of the choices they are making at all times.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think the trend in fiction is to simpler typography-- no italics.

Anonymous said...

so does that mean that we shouldn't be using italics at all if that is 'the trend'? Or is this something that will be sorted in the edit stage?

Also is it a no-no to use italics AND a tag? I've seen that done in published novels and it looks strange, like overkill.

Thanks for raising this topic, despite the ales. ;-)