Yesterday I finished copyediting a rather longish short story (just under 17K words), and my brain is full of military sci-fi acronyms and jargon. Part of a copyeditor’s job is to make sure all the invented words are used consistently. Another part of a copyeditor’s job is not to have a conniption over nonstandard capitalizations, etc. I am grateful to the developmental editor for sending me the custom dictionary/style guide for the series. Comma splices are comma splices, and they need to go away, but sometimes it is appropriate (or at least necessary, ’cause the Big Boss said so) to capitalize Cadet.
The day before yesterday, my clone heard back from another of our beta readers about Project Brimstone. I feel pretty good about what LR (stands for “Loyal Reader” — he’s been beta reading for us for years and gets to claim the title of First Fanboy 🙂 ) said, considering he’d seen a draft of an earlier version, and yet he didn’t skip/skim any of the final version. He had mild misgivings about one scene, but it will be easy to revise so it works better. (We had mild misgivings about that scene, too. Delete the “lantern,” though, and all is well.)
Y’know what’s interesting? The beta reader who almost didn’t volunteer because of feelings of ‘not being qualified’ was the first one to read the manuscript and respond to our questions. This beta reader doesn’t usually read science fiction but doesn’t have anything against the genre, either. (Free advice: Never have someone who actively hates your genre beta read for you. No one who says, “All YA fiction sucks!” has anything useful to say to you about your YA novel. Don’t even let such a person proofread for grammar and punctuation if you can avoid it.) Beta readers from outside your genre are quite beneficial: they offer a perspective that you can’t get from readers who devour the genre in all its forms. This beta reader also pointed out a couple of places in the story where clarification is needed.
A few days ago, I read an interesting blog post by author Charles Yallowitz about how what characters wear affects worldbuilding in fantasy fiction. (It affects worldbuilding in “mundane” fiction, too.) I started to write a blog post in response to that, but I kept going off on what would probably look like tangents to most people… That’s usually a sign that I need to back off and decide how much information on a topic is sufficient for normal humans. (I said normal, not average — don’t glare. As for whether or not you’re human, well, it’s a high statistical probability that you are, and if you’re not, I’m not going to be the one to say so.) So sometime in the next few days, I’ll finish my bloggish blather about pre-Industrial Era textiles, where they came from, and who wore them. (“Of course I know this stuff; Weaver is my middle name,” he said, making a joke of something literal. Actually, I picked it up from reading a lot and hanging out with people who do a lot of historical costuming. Heck, I do a bit of historical costuming, ’cause you can’t buy decent Viking garb “off the rack” that will fit someone my height. I still refuse to naalbind my own “authentic Viking socks,” though. Sewn linen is good enough, and almost certainly more comfortable.)
See what I mean about tangents? 🙂
Yesterday evening, my cat Tabitha reminded me that I still haven’t written that blog post about dramatic irony. However, today is March 15, which is either the best or worst day to write such a post… Y’see, there was an evil little Roman, and a dagger which was rumored to have been the one used to kill Julius Caesar. These things featured in the plot of the television series that I intend to use for some of the examples of dramatic irony done right, so you can perhaps see why I’m unsure about writing such a post on the Ides of March, of all days. (Y’know what’s sometimes really annoying? I found myself feeling sympathy for the evil little Roman. One detail of his backstory revealed, and all of a sudden I’m thinking, He still has to be stopped, but I totally get why he’s insane and evil now. And that, friends, is one of the right ways to write villains in fiction: don’t try to make your reader like or agree with them, but do try to make your reader understand them.)
My brother has finally, after more than two decades, settled on a heraldic device to use in the Society for Creative Anachronism. At first I didn’t like it — anything with a deer gets a bit too close to certain imagery for my comfort — but then I changed my mind. Y’see, given the time period, etc., for my brother’s SCA persona, and the fact that his persona is a mercenary who’s been fighting against the Christian invaders (Crusader-types on training maneuvers — they don’t care if the people they attack are on their side or not, because who cares about peasants anyway?) in 1400s Germany… Well, a “medieval murder-deer” (an antelope rampant and wielding a pole-ax, I think — heraldic antelope look carnivorous) may be just the thing. My brother’s SCA persona can get revenge for us by burning the village of the people who killed Jason Grey’s best friend, Jennen Hart. (If you think this is weird, you should see the heraldic device Grace chose for herself, should she ever be allowed to have one. It’s based on the device she invented for Jon Livingston, another character from my/our stories… No one will suspect a thing, though, because the bird is a martlet instead of the obvious choice. Well, the other obvious choice, but somebody already had that one.)