Monday, January 10, 2011


As I think I may have blogged about before, either here or at t'other blog, I learned after many years of chronically costive writing practices that if I hit a snag in a sentence or a paragraph, what I should do instead of painstakingly rearranging the grammar or rebooting the paragraph or Googling down the highways and byways of the virtual world in search of confirmation or denial before moving on to the next glacially slow sentence was simply to write a short note to myself in the text, saying what needed to be done, and to write it in caps inside square brackets for clear demarcation and easy spotting.

In practice, almost all such interjections consist of either [CHECK], which usually means 'fact-check', or [FIX THIS], which can mean anything from a clumsily structured paragraph through a bungled segue to a sentence that has simply lost its way and its will to live, and has lain down in the dust to die.

But the book on Adelaide that I am currently hustling to finish is both much longer and much more complicated than most of the stuff I write, and the manuscript as it exists at the moment, while indeed full of [CHECK] and [FIX THIS], also has a few longer and more exotic interjections in it. My two favourites to date are [GAH, JESUS, SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT -- REWRITE THIS WHOLE SENTENCE] and [NO YOU FUCKWIT, HARDLY ANYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THIS, WHAT YOU'VE WRITTEN HERE IS JUST COMPLETELY WRONG].

One can only hope that in one's hurry one does not send one of these early drafts to the publisher by mistake.


  1. What about [AWK] and [FLOW]? I sympathise on a smaller scale: currently wrangling with chapter that has blown out to 14,000 words.

  2. [AWK] and [FLOW] (for me these are two sides of the same coin) both come under [FIX THIS] -- once I've noted that there's a problem, I can always see or remember what the problem is. Those two longer interruptions are not so much instructions as spontaneous cries of anguish.

  3. ...and they're very publishable. I'd love to see a short story so self-aware that it's full of authorial interjections whilst still maintaining an interesting narrative. CHALLENGE!

    (heh-- WV is CONSTRUT, a sentence written by a confident male writer :) )

  4. So nice to know I'm not the only one, although that said I do have some picturesque vulgarities in hand for when the words just won't work...