Free Proofreading for English errors!

I am a (former, unfortunately!) UK teacher with LOTS of time to read, but not a lot of money, so I decided to offer free proof reading in exchange for free reading material! I have met a marvellous group of friends that way, and so now I sometimes review and promote their books here, too! email me and I will get in touch privately. Or check out my Reviews

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The difference between a Grin, a Smirk and a Smile (UK vs US)

I've only just noticed this difference but it seems to be pretty universal:

Here in the UK, a smile is a mild, pallid creature, a bit like a 'nice' person. It can be deeply felt, but is often either restrained or polite or even forced. A grin, on the other hand, although performed with closed lips, is genuine and expresses a deep sense of gleeful mirth! A smirk, at least to my generation, is a rather sly half-grin, which has connotations of derision with hidden or less well-concealed, spite towards another. It is usually employed by those with poor self-esteem who wish to see themselves as superior to the person they are thinking about. We would use the word 'grin' to describe a wry smile that was prompted by fondness.

In current US romantic fiction, at least, these conventions seem to be reversed. People start off with a grin, and then it expands into a heartfelt smile.  A smirk does not seem to have the same level of negativity associated with it, either: the first time I read a heroine saying how much she loved that the guy always smirked at her silly ways, I thought, 'How low is her self-image, to enjoy being looked down on and almost bullied like that?' It turns out that the problem was one of translation between English and American(!!)


First Full Proofreading Finished!

I am SO (what is a mature superlative for *squeeee!*?)!

I finished my first proofreading job, for Kade Boehme, who was doing a reissue of Wide Awake (link is to old version - wait for the new one, with the new *soppy hugs and drools* cover - see Kade's blog) and look at the feedback I got:

You were a tremendous help and I couldn't have pulled this off without you :) Your comments were  ... [very] helpful. I really appreciated you keeping up with everything as you went. I ended up deferring to you on most all of them so kudos. Your work was on par with the editor I work with at the publishing house (only you ... have a more personal relationship with the book [as a fan])

Anyways... so ... [w]here it says "Copyright Kade Boehme. Cover by LC Chase" i threw in a "Proofed by AnonymousBlogger" with a link to your blog ;) Again, anything I can do to get you some recognition/credit for your fab work. You're a lifesaver. I've got something I may be tossing your way in the next couple wks ... It's a smaller project ... and much more in the way of a quick rom-com(ish) novella. 

<3 kade

Yippee! *all that jumping and bouncing I should be too old to do anymore!*

Of course, Kade made it easy by writing a story I really enjoyed in a style that was well-written and complemented mine (I am 100% NOT journalistic in my own prose, so Kade's natural immediate, rather breathless first-person style was a brilliant match!)

So, what did I learn from this?

1) I CAN do a good job of this ... all that marking of Statistics A level papers got me in good training for noticing the 'Quality of Written Communication' criteria (UK Exam Politics Speak *sigh*)
2) I can pick up the tone of an author's work and work within it, in a way that enhances the reader's experience without upsetting the author. (Based on a not completely random sample size of 1, this may not be a fully convincing generalisation, of course!)
3) It takes a LOT longer to proof read carefully for everything, like inconsistent tenses, 'Dragon Oopsie's' like 'flew the coup coop' (UK Dragon would not make that mistake, cos over here we use a more Francophonic pronunciation for 'coup'!), and to make sure I am not accidentally correcting something into UK instead of US English (eg 'give in to' in the US - and apparently in OZ, too - is 'give into' - the research into comparative etymologies is great fun!)
4) I would still spot the really glaring errors if I were working faster, but working in depth requires shorter bursts, or A LOT of reading over and over again, to make sure I don't miss something (I only spotted 'took a loud load off his mind' on a final runthrough, because it came at the end of a section that I should have left and come back to fresh the first time!)
5) The editors and proofreaders I temped with once upon a (long) time ago were every bit as smart as I took them for at the time ... this is a job I would have REALLY ENJOYED back when I was well enough to do it for pay!
6) Format worries were a non-issue ... whatever format a writer sends me, I have appropriate software to make changes and attach comments to explain my thinking clearly, left over from making Maths resources and doing web design!

So ... come on, then, Nate, Sage and C R: bring it on ... I am on a roll and ready for you to do your worst best(!)  Just, don't expect FAST, cos I'm still the same stickler for accuracy over speed that I was as a teacher.  This means, however, that YOU guys can concentrate on speed and leave the nit picking to me - for free!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Multiple Point of View Narratives

The first time I came across this was in a short, self-published ebook that was free on Amazon, where the author started by warning the reader that it was written in a Multiple Points of View style ... unfortunately, the author should rather have warned that it was written in a  clumsy, info dumps style ... which was much more of a problem for the reader.  Fortunately, I can no longer remember the name of the story or the author.  Unfortunately again, though, it was not the best introduction I could have had to the wider spread of useage that this format of mixed first person and third person narration is now receiving.

I am now reading more of the MPOV style where female Points Of View (mainly the principle heroine) are narrated in the first person and all others are in the third person. Kristen Ashley does it well and so I am getting used to it. It is a good device for solving the problem of immediacy vs the wider picture, but personally, I am still trying to work out alternative methods of achieving the same ends. I love Kristen's stories, but still feel slightly awkward flipping POV on occasion.

I like what Kayci Morgan did in Four of a Kind, where each character had a few chapters of first person narration of their part in the history (minimal or no overlaps and not necessarily consecutive or in time order).  Changeovers were bridged by short third person segments in the present tense, but I feel this can only work for occasional books, rather than as a regular device.

Has anyone seen any other such structures used successfully?

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Teaching is a stressful business, with people scrutinising your every word and action. This is my chance to unwind / rant anonymously without recriminations!