As I've said before, I'm finding it very difficult to get back into writing mode. However, there's nothing stopping me from reading. So, at the moment, I have three books on the go (none of them in the genre I want to write--no kidlit at all). One is about writing. While going through possible links to possible publishers for my books, I came across one with the admonition to read a book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, (second edition) by Renni Browne & Dave King, published by HarperCollins in 2004 (originally in 1991). I got it from the library.
The second book is a mystery by one of my favourite authors, Sue Grafton. This one is O is for Outlaw. I haven't read all the letters A to N, nor have I read them in any special order. They're good relaxing reading. I have several of Grafton's books--most recently I bought "N" at a garage sale.
The third book was given to me by the wife of the author, so it's even autographed. It is Climbing Jacob's Ladder, by Alan Morinis--about the Mussar tradition in Judaism. Well-written so that it's hard to put down.
Today I was reading some of "O" by Grafton, and found this quite amusing. In the self-editing book, there's considerable criticism of authors who break certain rules. An example is a quote from The New York Times Book Review, which goes as follows: "Mr. [Robert] Ludlum has other peculiarities. For example, he hates the 'he said' locution and avoids it as much as possible. Characters in The Bourne Ultimatum seldom 'say' anything. Instead, they cry, interject, interrupt, muse, state, counter, conclude, mumble, whisper (Mr. Ludlum is great on whispers), intone, roar, exclaim, fume, explode, mutter. There is one especially unforgettable tautology: '"I repeat," repeated Alex.'" The book may sell in the billions, but it's still junk." --Newgate Callender.
Well, the section I've been reading in Self-Editing has been going on against lengthy descriptions. It's the chapter on proportion. It warns against boring the reader to death with extensive passages about the scenery and the weather, etc. So that brings me back to Grafton's book. I really had to laugh--three whole pages (pp.99--108) of driving the 101 from Santa Teresa to Los Angeles, taking the offramp...paying for parking...looking for a parking spot...going up the elevator...shops on either side...the receptionist's wrinkled old face...etc., etc., etc. And yes, she did go on about the temperature, the fire hazard, the winds (the Santa Anas, etc.). Was I bored? Not really--I hoped she was building tension, but I don't know yet. I closed the book.