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A hiatus is required

November 9, 2009
Posted at 10:35 am
Updated: November 9, 2009 - 10:46 am

Now that Orchard Flower is finished:

Salutations to those of you who have repeatedly recommended that I publish my works. I finally took your advice and submitted a book to a publisher.

Now, part two of that comment is this: May the fleas of a thousand camels take up residence in the nostrils of you who repeatedly recommended that I publish my works.

I'll explain, because this is a version of the "Be careful what you ask for" theme in writing. You asked for it, and now we all have to live with it.

The publisher read the book and sent it back to me with his recommendations (requirements) of changes necessary for the book to be considered seriously for publication. Basically, he ripped it to shreds. Literally, the entire book must be rewritten.

That, it turns out, is because I am writing in an outdated point of view called Third person omniscient voice. He quoted the Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency in reference to that:

"Third person omniscient, a favorite 19th century POV, fell out of popularity as readers became more sophisticated and began challenging this all knowing, all seeing voice which readers recognized as the author's. In commercial fiction, authorial intrusion should be avoided at all costs as modern readers want their stories told from a character's viewpoint only.

The most widely used point of view in 21st century literature is, of course, third person, limited omniscient multiple viewpoint. This point of view's ease of use, not only gives the writer the closeness of the first person narrator, it also gives many options not available in the other narrative forms. For one thing, if you can imagine yourself inside the character in this viewpoint-seeing, smelling, hearing, and touching everything he or she sees, smells, hears, or touches, you can create a realm which is so real and so comfortable that your reader actually becomes the main character. This kind of escapism is what fiction is all about."

OK, that sounds simple. I just need to go from third person omniscient to third person limited omniscient multiple voice. So what does that involve? Here is what the publisher's editor said about the rewrite of my book:

Here is a list of words you should watch for and remove.

began to
started to
and then
to be
ANY AND ALL adverbs "ly" words. Not needed most of the time, i.e., gently, softly, intently, etc.

Author voice: " I stared at him with bloodshot eyes" Unless she's looking into a mirror, she wouldn't know her eyes are bloodshot. This is author voice jumping inside the character's head.

Maybe this editor has a point. I counted the word "was" in my book and came up with over two thousand uses of it. They should be simple to get rid of with this new, easy to use voice thing.

But all of this doesn't matter to you, the modern sophisticated reader. What matters to you is that I have no fricking idea how I'm going to rewrite this book without any of those words in it. I've always been a story teller, a narrator of tales, and your response has been phenomenally gratifying, so I thought I was doing OK (which by the way I now know is only acceptable when rendered as "Okay".) Maybe that's because what I write has been free, so you don't mind that the author's voice rings out constantly. After all, you get what you pay for, right?

But the man says I can't do that if I want to sell books. And, as I'm getting a bit long in the tooth, and since Mr. Obama and Mrs. Pelosi seem determined to get all my money so they can share it with those poor folks who can't seem to see all those help wanted signs at Wendy's and Burger King (where I worked when I couldn't find a better job, by the way) then I'm going to need all the extra income I can get my greedy conservative fingers on.

All of this is to explain that I can't go on writing in my usual old school style, and try to learn to think like a modern, hip author at the same time. And what THAT means is that I'm going to take a little break from writing new stories while I work on this old one.


It's a complicated world. Some of the most genuine joy I get in life is from being a storyteller, whether it's out of style or not. So there will probably be the odd offering here and there. I have a holiday piece that I started working on too late for last year's season, and I'd like to get that done. I've been working on a story in cooperation with Stormy Weather for two years, and we'd like to get THAT done.

So there might be a couple of things. And (which is a no no way of starting a sentence) once in a while an idea jumps into my head and won't let me concentrate on anything else at all until it is attended to.

But ... in theory ... you won't see anything from me for most likely six months. That's actually how long I expect it to take for me to learn this third person limited omniscient multiple viewpoint the publisher is talking about. If I can learn it at all. That's not a given, here. Like most men, I love the sound of my own voice, whether it's spoken or on paper.

And if I can't learn this modern way of writing?

Well, I suspect I'll just go back to telling stories for free. Cause above all else, I love telling stories.

And those poor unemployed peoople will just have to go hungry. Or take the jobs the illegals are currently doing.

Who am I kidding? Our brave leaders want them to eat at Taco Bell ... not work there.

See you around,