ashnistrike: (lightning)
I'm now a little under halfway through Deep Roots, the sequel to Winter Tide. I'm learning things. For example, that writing around a toddler is harder than writing around a pregnant wife who sleeps a lot. Who knew? And that I need to write something new every day, even when prior-book edits intervene, because the ease of getting started the day after a 50-word day is noticeably better than the ease of getting started the day after a 0-word day.

Publication changes my writing process, both because of the practicalities of the editing cycle, and because I've learned things from writing and editing the first book. Winter Tide isn't my first completed novel--it's my 3rd--but it's the first where I've had to go beyond making a few cosmetic changes based on beta reader feedback. Structural edits have always scared the hell out of me. I couldn't see how to fix a lopsided plot or a lack of foreshadowing, or how to stitch in and rip out entire threads of plot or theme. I could get away with that--right up until a book was accepted for publication. I owe Carl and Cameron endless gratitude for demanding those changes, and then holding my hand through several rounds of them.

The structural changes that Winter Tide needed weren't even major, relative to some I've heard about. The overall plot is still essentially what it was at the beginning. I added a few scenes and changed a few lines, but didn't have to cut any characters or subplots. The climax is the one I wrote originally. But the things I did have to do were scary for me. And having done them, I now know that I can. The end result is that I'm now much more willing to follow the way of the Crappy First Draft. I can take risks I wouldn't have before, when I assumed I'd be stuck with any roads that veered off cliffs. This is probably annoying for my alpha reading wife, who's dealing with in-line notes like <add a better transition here> and <people have faces, describe them> and <have Charlie do something or cut him from this scene entirely> in lieu of semi-polished prose.

Meanwhile, in the galleys, I'm learning that I really like to repeat words. One of the major things we did during line edits was to fix places where I'd enjoyed a piece of vocabulary so much that I used it three times in a paragraph. (Lovecraft never had an editor to catch these, thus the ever-amusing "cyclopean" count.) We must have fixed a couple hundred instances of this problem. Now, going over the galleys... I'm finding even more of these. My only theory is that the Great Old Ones really like repetitive words, and demand them of their scribes as tribute.

Road map:

    Structural edits = Foreshadow this ending; make this threat scarier, turn up the volume on on your themes
    Line edits = Make this paragraph comprehensible, cut half your cyclopeans, did you mean this dialogue to sound like flirting
    Copyedits = Did you mean discrete or discreet, argue about hyphens, I don't care whether or not you capitalize Archpriest but be consistent
    Galleys = Oh Great Cthulhu how did I miss that

...with a sprinkling of "fix this anachronism" throughout, because historical fantasy is hard and 1949 is a strange country.
ashnistrike: (Default)
Natural languages are born when communities of children who don't share a language come together. This can be because they speak different languages, or because they haven't got a full language to begin with. Neither isolated children nor communities of adults seem to be capable of doing this.  Newborn languages are almost exclusively learned by children; you get the first adult speakers when those children grow up.  Constructed languages are born when one adult, or a small group of adults, deliberately creates a vocabulary and a grammar.  They teach this language first to other adults.  If a linguistic community forms, it is likely to have more adults than children; the language may never be taken up by a viable population of children at all.  According to the innateness hypothesis, pre-adolescent children have an instinct that eases the learning of language.  This instinct includes the predisposition to look for certain language-like patterns in the environment, but also to create them from non-grammatical language-like input, given a large enough group. The way that new natural languages are born, and the fact that it requires kids, is considered strong evidence for innateness. The innateness hypothesis should also predict, then, that languages deliberately created by adults and learned largely by adults should have different properties than languages created spontaneously by children and learned largely by children.  In some fashion, you should be able to tell by looking at the structure of a language whether it's natural or constructed.  Yes?  Has someone already done this research?  If not, could they please?
ashnistrike: (Default)
Chaucer has a worse Rorschach Effect than Rorschach. Except that I can write and speak like Rorschach (even if it's not a good idea), but I can't spontaneously produce rhyming couplets in Middle English.

Also, reading in a language that you don't know, but know anyway, is very strange. If I hadn't already believed in the implicit acquisition of linguistic rules, I would now.
ashnistrike: (Default)
-Somehow, it's become Spring. The garden is full of apple mint and scallions. The yard is full of lilac and honeysuckle. Edible "weeds" are poking up all over our yard: mustard greens, sorrel, dandelion, bee balm. I never get over the way plants just grow.

-If the Internets know why my copy of Firefox now sticks my previous e-mail into any attempt to reply to someone, rather than quoting their e-mail, I'd appreciate them sharing their wisdom. It also sticks a copy of my previous lj post into the text box whenever I start to make a new post--and a copy of my previous comment on a given journal/community into the text box for my next comment. It does not confuse these different types of text entry with each other. My other copy of Firefox (on my work computer) does not do this. [ETA: Aha! It was the Greasemonkey "Backup text area" extension. It's gone now, and my e-mails quote properly again.]

-After correcting 60 undergraduate papers, every misplaced apostrophe digs into my flesh like a tiny thorn. "It's" = "it is"; "its" = possessive form of "it". Plurals do not get apostrophes, no matter how much they beg. Editors and teachers everywhere will love you for getting this right.

-If anyone, like me, is silly enough to use Windows Media Player for their music, I highly recommend not upgrading to version 11 when it's offered. The interface, based on the princple that graphics are good, and more graphics are better, is hideously ugly and hides most of the information that is presented on the surface in version 10. Particularly if you use any of the more esoteric columns (like "mood"), it absolutely refuses to give access to those. It took me half an hour to figure out that a rollback was even possible, and another hour to do it.

-My favorite typo yesterday--mine this time: I'd written, of a small tabby-colored dragon, "He looks like one of the Norse breeds, so he probably expects to eat bark in the winter." I attempted to change this to, "...he probably expects bark in the winter." Result? "He probably expects to bark in the winter." Nameseeker assumed this was an interesting evolutionary adaptation, but couldn't figure out how it might be a survival characteristic.
ashnistrike: (Default)
My good learning textbook has fun words in it.

Dichotomania: the desire to divide all methods and styles of cognition simplistically into "left-brain" and "right-brain" thought. I've been haranguing my kids about this for years, but I've never had a word for it.

Spandrels: an evolutionary term--side-effects of a mutation with adaptive benefit, that aren't the original adaptive "purpose" but are cool anyway. So the immediate adaptive benefit of increased brain size in humans might have been better problem-solving skills, better memory for food and predator location, language, or any number of other possibilities depending on your pet theory (it's hard to test these things). Spandrels would include the ability to compose symphonies, long philosophical rants at 4 AM, and democratic constitutions. I love this word. It sounds like extra sparkly bits that got added on to something already beautifully functional, just to make it more decorative. It makes me feel like I'm walking around dressed up all fancy.

The cynics may now try to figure out an equivalent word for traffic jams, water pollution, and Welsh-language television (no offense intended to Ibliss--just a Good Omens reference).

Spandrels. Spandrels, spandrels, spandrels... it's better than "plethora!"

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