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Tanuki Racoon

Picking on an Editor and Author

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Graeme (who I really, really like) -- I am going to pick on a sentence in the latest chapter of New Brother. This is not an attack on your or your editor. But I have to understand something.

You had a (very well done) scene of a beating. During which a certain character utters: I shrugged. ?Beats me.?

Now, in the middle of this serious scene I busted out laughing. The word "beat" was, to me, a very unfortunate choice.

If I was an editor, I'd have flagged that in bold and red with a comment about same. If I was an author, I don't think I'd intentionally use that word in that instance.

I am curious if this was a deliberate move or it just slipped in. It was just absurdly incongruous to me. As a reader, I should notice a word that much unless the author intends it. I realize kids talk like that. I'd probably say the same thing even but not in that particular situation.

Again, no offence meant but it just bugged me enough to say something because I actually 'fell out' of the story and had to analyze the whole bit.

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Completely accidental, I assure you.

The phrase is a very common one that is used when you have no idea of the reason for something that has occured. The unintended link to the prior events in the chapter just didn't click.

Sorry. I'll have to take responsibility for that one. I can certainly imagine someone saying it, but as you have pointed out, realism has to be balanced with readability.

Having said that, I'm not changing it.... :p (subject to change without notice)

Graeme :D

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Completely accidental, I assure you. The phrase is a very common one that is used when you have no idea of the reason for something that has occured. The unintended link to the prior events in the chapter just didn't click.

Sorry. I'll have to take responsibility for that one. I can certainly imagine someone saying it, but as you have pointed out, realism has to be balanced with readability.

Having said that, I'm not changing it....  :P  (subject to change without notice)

See, I agree. It's common here too. In terms of realism it's perfect but it's just not right there. If I were writing it I'd probably have said "Hell if I know" in that case. I still love your story yet I was compelled* to inquire.

And, if you're not nice to me, I'm going to start calling you "Graeme Cracker" :)

* A large man named Guido said he'd kill me if I didn't.

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Aargh, must pick up where I left off with New Brother. -- I liked the first part (1 - 12) though I often wanted to smack David, and I'm a pretty mild-mannered guy. I really want to see how everything turns out.

OK, enough with my fanboy mode.

The phrase "beats me" is just as common in the US and means the same thing as it does there, for when someone has no idea about something.

Since I haven't read that chapter yet, I don't know if it would strike me as off or just a little ironic humor.

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Reminds me of a time back in fifth grade when a story came back from the teacher marked in red for this sentence:

Just then, he spotted the leopard.

I no longer remember the story but I will never forget how gosh darn dumb I felt when I realized what I'd done. It has made me more conscious of that sort of thing, but it is NOT easy to notice while you're proofing your OWN material.

Kisses...

TR

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I confess I noticed it, too, though I was not bothered by it a great deal.

On a slight tangent - ever hear of a "Tom Swifty" - so called from the Tom Swift Jr. books by Victor Appleton II. This was a series of boys adventure books (no, not that kind of adventure) from Grosset & Dunlap who published Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, Nancy Drew etc.

Most often, an adverb used to describe the manner in which a character spoke was related to the content of the speech. For example - I can't believe the engine is still smoking like that, said Tom exhaustedly.

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Most often, an adverb used to describe the manner in which a character spoke was related to the content of the speech. For example - I can't believe the engine is still smoking like that, said Tom exhaustedly.
Yet another reason NOT to use adverbs. Every book on writing I've ever read stresses the need to avoid adverbs as much as possible. To not do so is foolhardy. (Whoops!) :roll:
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Oh, come on. Adverbs are perfectly fine. (See?) Use them properly, and they're just as valuable as any other part of speech. I wouldn't even get bent out of shape over a witty use of an adverb. However, I might get testy over the use of an adjective when an adverbial form should be used instead. Whoever is saying they should be avoided surely means to avoid overuse and to avoid misuse. I'll presume it's part of a general admonition against overly flowery or expository writing. Personally, I like a little creative use of modifiers.

Spare, packed writing is good too. There's room for all sorts of good styles.

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Editor Aaron here.

WBMS, I like your ?Picking on an Editor and Author? post. Graeme pointed it out to me last night, when I didn?t have time to post a reply. I?m glad I didn?t, because today I asked several men of the parent and grandparent generations how they would have described a fight when they were high school students (in the olden days :) ). All of them used either ?beat? or ?beaten? or ?beaten up? in their answers. American kids of my generation most often say ?he kicked his ass? or a variation of that. (Fights don?t often happen at our school, but there are frequent ?I?ll kick your ass!? threats.) In very rare instances we hear ?he beat the shit out of him?. In Australia, the preferred terminology seems to include the word ?bash? and variations of it.

I think readers (and authors) of different generations sometimes see a given subject or topic through different eyes. In my editing of ?New Brother? I often make changes that are aimed at making the teen characters more teen-like. I don?t need to do that when I edit Ryan Keith?s stories, because Ryan was a teen until last month.

Chapter 19 includes four direct references to the fight:

1. An unnamed kid says, ?Hey, Paul! Luke Williams is bashing up some kid on the footy oval!? At our school, that would be ?Luke Williams is kicking some kid?s ass on the football field.? [in the chapter paragraph just above that one, I see a blooper that I missed in my editing: "One of guys running away?." I failed to insert ?the?. My bad.]

2. The head P.E. teacher, Mr. Presley, says, ?He?s done a real number on this guy.? That would be a realistic adult statement at our school.

3. Narrator David tells us: "I was puzzled by why Luke had bashed up Nick?." An American teen would use ?kicked Nick?s ass? instead of ?bashed up Nick?. [As an editor, I didn?t notice something that I have now noticed as a reader: In that sentence, the word combination ?by why? made me laugh out loud. A little dog ran through my mind, going ?by why? instead of ?bow wow?.]

4. Mary says, ?a kid was hurt, and hurt real bad.? Girls at our school would say the same thing.

WBMS, your post refers to the fight as a beating, so I suspect that as you read about the fight you had variations of the word ?beat? in mind. As a teenaged editor, I didn?t have that word in mind, so character/narrator David?s ?Beats me? seemed to be a totally realistic statement, and I don?t think David would have carefully chosen his words in that tense situation. If one or more of Graeme?s written references to the fight had included ?beat? instead of ?bash?, then I might have considered ?Beats me? as being a poor choice.

This post of mine is probably useless, but you?ve gotten author Graeme?s response, and now I?ve added editor Aaron?s.

Gotta jet ? football game tonight. I?m one of the team managers and my man Billy is our place kicker. We?re gonna kick the other team?s asses tonight. Or, umm? will we beat them up? Beats me. I just hope we win. On the footy oval. :)

Cheers,

Aaron

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...It's a very inquisitive dog, you see....

...Or maybe it's a bi and questioning dog....

8) :lol:

I'm gonna have the image of a little beagle running through my head for a while now. Heheheh. OK, so I'm easily entertained.

// Puts on serious face. :-|

This post of mine is probably useless

Highly valuable, you mean. More writers should pay attention to how real, present-day teens act and talk, when they write about teens.

I would expect either "beaten up" or "kicked his ass/butt;" although in the US, "he got bashed" would usually mean he was gay-bashed, whereas it means any kind of getting beaten up in Oz or the UK. I recall asking Graeme to confirm that, while I was editing Falls Creek Lessons, because I wasn't sure my American ear was translating it correctly.

[hr/]

Good luck with the game tonight, guys! Kick their butts! ...Well, outscore 'em anyway. ;)

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Editor Aaron here.

WBMS, I like your ?Picking on an Editor and Author? post. Graeme pointed it out to me last night, when I didn?t have time to post a reply. I?m glad I didn?t, because today I asked several men of the parent and grandparent generations how they would have described a fight when they were high school students (in the olden days  :)  ). All of them used either ?beat? or ?beaten? or ?beaten up? in their answers. American kids of my generation most often say ?he kicked his ass? or a variation of that. (Fights don?t often happen at our school, but there are frequent ?I?ll kick your ass!? threats.) In very rare instances we hear ?he beat the shit out of him?. In Australia, the preferred terminology seems to include the word ?bash? and variations of it.  

Listen, just 'cause I'm an old fart, doesn't mean I can't turn you over my knee and beat your ass you little whipersnapper :)

"Beat the shit out of...." is the most common phrasing I hear (and use) followed by "kicking (his) ass" so the word BEATS just really was noticeable. The other stuff didn't really bug me either way. This actually bugged me enough where I thought I'd at least point it out.

Oh, and adverbs are fine despite what another poster claimed ;)

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Aaron raises an interesting point regarding different cultures and how they can read the same thing in different ways.

In this case we have both teen-USA culture, and Australian culture contrasting with older-USA culture (or maybe just a different USA area culture). Between Aaron and myself, we try to make an educated guess at Australian teen culture, but that's a different story.

As an author, I have already made concessions in the story for the predominantly American reader audience (the original draft used metric measurements, but I was advised to use imperial as it would be more understandable for the majority of readers). I also only insist on keeping those Australian phrases where the American equivalent would sound stilted to an Australian. Otherwise, I'm happy for the American version to be used (with the amount of USA-based TV in Australia, most American phrases are recognisable and sometimes used by Australians).

This is what I referred to in my previous post as realism vs readability. Some Australian phrasing has been altered to a less common but still acceptable version to make it more readable for a wider audience.

Graeme

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Editor Aaron here.

WBMS, I like your ?Picking on an Editor and Author? post. Graeme pointed it out to me last night, when I didn?t have time to post a reply. I?m glad I didn?t, because today I asked several men of the parent and grandparent generations how they would have described a fight when they were high school students (in the olden days  :)  ). All of them used either ?beat? or ?beaten? or ?beaten up? in their answers. American kids of my generation most often say ?he kicked his ass? or a variation of that. (Fights don?t often happen at our school, but there are frequent ?I?ll kick your ass!? threats.) In very rare instances we hear ?he beat the shit out of him?. In Australia, the preferred terminology seems to include the word ?bash? and variations of it.  

Listen, just 'cause I'm an old fart, doesn't mean I can't turn you over my knee and beat your ass you little whipersnapper :)

"Beat the shit out of...." is the most common phrasing I hear (and use) followed by "kicking (his) ass" so the word BEATS just really was noticeable. The other stuff didn't really bug me either way. This actually bugged me enough where I thought I'd at least point it out.

Oh, and adverbs are fine despite what another poster claimed ;)

Besides hearing these phrase's, I grew up hear things like "I'll whoop your ass" or "I whooped his ass good." When it came to parents, or I should say, when it came from parents, it was, "You're gonna get a licking for that."

I know, I've started something with that one.

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or there is the phrase - open up a can of whoop-ass on you. Mostly a Southernism, I do believe.

WBMS - if that is the LAST thing, then what is the first?

Graeme - I actually like the Australian phrases - it adds a layer of linguistic deciphering which I enjoy. Granted, I could be considered odd for that reason (and others no doubt).

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I like the Australian and British words. I sometimes gain a whole new perspective on things that way. OK, maybe not, but it's always enlightening and entertaining.

There's a whole lot of Aussie slang I don't know yet, and a whole lot of British food terms too.

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