|Found on Facebook - the latest sign to be added to my collection. Sigh . . . |
Grace - Ranting Again
As most of you know, every once in a while I find something so egregious, so inexcusable, that it sets me off on a rant. That happened last week when I chose a book via Bookbub. (Which just goes to show that you can pay to advertise anything!)
Well . . . it wasn't as bad as that remark implies, but it was shocking, nonetheless. Please examine the following dialogue from The Lady Takes a Risk (revised in the fashion of the novel I am ranting about) and figure out what is wrong with it.
The footman had no sooner shut the door to the colonel’s carriage than Lady Amelie turned to her husband, pronouncing with considerable ire, You might have told me!
And spoiled your determination to sacrifice yourself on the altar of social disgrace? he returned, his tone carefully neutral.
Ignoring the barb—and a barb it certainly was—Amelie continued her tirade. You could well afford to whistle my sixty thousand pounds down the wind. So why on earth did you marry me?
I assure you, my dear, not even the Prince Regent would ignore the lure of sixty thousand pounds.
Marcus shrugged. Noblesse oblige. Knight to the rescue. The possibility of bringing my household out of chaos? Respite from a cold bed and long, lonely nights?
Amelie, huffing a breath of outrage, crossed her arms and turned her gaze to the carriage window, staring with seeming fascination at scenery she had seen a thousand times before.
Marcus stared at the soft-sided portmanteau his wife was holding in her lap. What, he asked in arctic accents, was that?
Lady Amelie, back straight, shoulders stiff, ignored him.
Amelie . . . ?
That, she said, looking straight ahead, is Bastet.
I expect it didn't take long for you to go, "Huh? What happened to the quotation marks?"
Try to picture an entire novel, a lengthy historical romance, written without quotation marks. Not. A. One. Resulting in total confusion between actual dialogue and the characters' thoughts and actions; besides being so totally abnormal as to be thoroughly off-putting.
The book was also handicapped by being written in extreme "storyteller" style, something that's been shunned for years by most fiction authors. And yet . . . I kept reading because the historical research was obviously painstakingly accurate, the story itself was intriguing, and the prose - even without quotation marks - was oftentimes lyrical. In other words, here was a possibly gifted author so absorbed in what he/she was researching—a writer, so "blindered" by history—that I wondered if he/she had ever looked up from academia long enough to read a single work of fiction. The book certainly didn't present that way. I considered assigning the blame to arrogance: the author was deliberately thumbing his/her nose at the rules of dialogue, but somehow I'm more inclined to think the author was someone who simply never came up from air long enough to understand the fiction genre and how it is presented.
There were a number of other oddities in the book which I won't detail because they might pinpoint the author too clearly, but it's absolutely tragic to see a talented author so centered on a single project that he/she fails on one of the few unbreakable rules of writing: enclosing dialogue in quotation marks. I mean, we all had to read James Joyce, right? And how did that go for you? I still recall the experience with horror.
If you want people to read your books, your presentation has to work. It must be easily understandable. Isn't that why I've been blogging about Writing & Editing since 2011? Your work has to make sense. It has to be easily read. I. e., unless you simply want to be known for your eccentricity, there are certain rules you have to follow. No if's, and's, or but's about it!
As for the "Revamp" . . .
It seemed time to give my very first traditional Regency - first published in 2003 by Signet as The Independent Earl - a new cover. And here it is - now live on Kindle and Smashwords, complete with revised blurb and "tweaked" manuscript. More details can be found on my Facebook Author Page (link below).
For a link to The Courtesan's Letters on Amazon Kindle, please click here.
For a link to The Courtesan's Letters on Smashwords, please click here.
Grace note: I have a new Facebook Author's Page up, providing what I hope is interesting background on The Courtesan's Letters. To read the page, click here.
Also, Kindle Scout has put my Rebel Princess on 99¢ sale through June 29.
For a link to Rebel Princess, click here.
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For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.
Thanks for stopping by,
Ugh. I couldn't even get through your example to see if you were complaining about anything besides the (lack of) quotation marks. (I started Ulysses but didn't get beyond the first few pages. I'm generally compulsive about finishing books, but I'm not a masochist.)ReplyDelete
I think you may be over-generous in putting the blame on the author being primarily a non-fiction writer. I don't always use quotation marks; sometimes I'll set a quote apart by italicizing it, or changing the font, or through indentation, depending on the effect I want. Sometimes--very rarely--I will leave the special effects out altogether if there is no possibility of confusion. But when you're writing non-fiction, clarity is everything.
Don't get me started on writers who can't be bothered to alternate double and single quotation marks when needed.