Friday, April 13, 2012

Contractions.......Or Not

While editing Aurora Rescue, the first novel I completed, I noticed something very interesting. I did not miss the contractions.

To give a little bit of history, when I first started this novel, I received input from both my granddaughter and her mother. The one plea from my daughter-in-law was to please use good grammar. So, even though I have a lot of dialect for some of my period characters, for my main characters, I did my best to avoid contractions.

Contractions are how many of us talk, although regionally, we do not use the same contractions. Contractions are a good way of reducing the number of words for a militant publisher that insists that a manuscript be limited to a certain length based on word count. But, I realized as I edited this book for the umpteenth time that, whether reading it quietly or speaking it out loud, I did not miss the contractions. My brain must have registered the contractions that I normally would have spoken. I was very comfortable with the "will not" instead of the "won't" and "cannot" instead of the "can't."

Now that I re-read Family Secrets, I see that I used a lot of contractions in the dialogue. After all, I have been living in California's central valley most of my adult life and my characters are from the same region. I know how we talk. However, based on the lessons learned from editing Aurora Rescue, I am going back and reviewing Family Secrets to see if I can get rid of some of the contractions.

I will deal with the word count police later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Civil War Study

I have been reading books from the Civil War era that I believe will be very helpful to me as I write Armitage, even though the bulk of the historical portion of this novel will be set in the Reconstruction period.

Killing Lincoln written by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard dealt mostly with the events surrounding the death of President Lincoln, but the first section also described in detail the final battles of the war that lead up to General Lee surrendering to General Grant. It also brought out the point that Lincoln demanded lenient terms for the surrender. His goal was to heal the woulds of war and reunite the nation.

They Met at Shiloh was a novel written by Phillip Bryant who has been a Civil War re-enactor for about 20 years. It centers on four characters, two from the North and two from the South, all of whom fought in different units during the battle at Shiloh, and all of whom came in contact with each other in one way or another before this battle was over. This book is very detailed, as I am sure all the Civil War battles that are re-enacted are, and I found the detail about the uniforms, the terminology, the logistics and the tactics very interesting.