Monday, September 18, 2006

A Very Special Ask Mr. Writing Person's Copy Editor

Editor's note: This post is actually written by me, Mr. Writing Person's copy editor.

If Mr. Writing Person would condescend to open his door, I'm sure he would apologize for being late. As it is, the only thing that makes it out of his room are sound waves, which are occasionally interpretable as words, usually sweary ones.

He said he'd update his story to reflect the other half of the advice he's given so far. I think he's having trouble following it. I'm surprised--how about you?

Anyway, since it's bad form to go two weeks without a blog post, I'm going to cover for him. He's actually had questions about his last post, though he's been too busy to answer them. I'll be... differently selective than he is, which should be fun.

Q. Where's all this "women and fame and glory and millions in advertising revenue" you're talking about? I mean, if you have all these women, why haven't we heard about them?

A. I believe Mr. Writing Person would present his mother as a prime example.

Q. I have a question about this paragraph:
Yvonne slammed the door and stalked away, causing the downstairs neighbor's ceiling paint to crack and flake onto the floor. Fabio Writing Person drilled a quick hole in the floor to make sure it was still seven feet of pure steel and concrete.

So why have "Fabio" drill a hole in the floor? What's up with that?

A. I believe this falls under "show, don't tell." If he had just told us that the floor was seven feet thick, that would have been cheating, because there's little chance Fabio would be thinking about that. However, His Inestimable Mr. Person found a tricky way around it: show how the floor is seven feet thick instead. This allows him to demonstrate ("show") the thickness of the floor without breaking POV ("tell").

Or something like that.

Q. So Fabio Writing Person just whips out an industrial drill with a seven-foot masonry bit and perforates his apartment whenever he feels like it?

A. He's active that way, yes.

Q. What's with this "beyond all rational belief" thing?

A. Did you notice how His Excellency Mr. Person tends to get stuck on phrases?

Q. He does?

A. Beyond all rational belief.

Q. Was the gerbil sandwich crunchy?

A. Horrendously so, I imagine. Notice, by the way, the sublime puppet stupidity / out-of-character moment portrayed in how that sandwich came to be.

Q. Stunning.

A. Quite.

Q. When Hellen "fished around in her drawers for another bottle of heroin," did that mean wooden drawers?

A. Probably not. Wooden drawers would be awfully hard to walk in, wouldn't you think?

Q. Okay, I'm really upset about this whole foreshadowing thing. When you foreshadow that someone is going to die, that person better be dead by the end of the story.

A. Haven't you ever read The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton? No fewer than twenty chapters end with something like, "Little did I know, it was the dumbest thing I could ever have done." Then, at the end, the story takes a turn for the worst and everyone ends up just fine--alive and well, except for the disease, which becomes globally inert.

The short answer is, if it works for Crichton, it works for Mr. Writing Person.

Q. The ending to The Andromeda Strain really bugged me.

A. It did?

Q. Beyond all rational belief.

A. Have a cookie.


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