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  1. #1
    Kitty Foyle

    "Persnickety" Strikes Again

    Yes, I bid farewell to WN members recently, but I’ve now returned. With my tail between my...oh, never mind! The Smoko board was morphing into "Loco Smoko," and some of us wrote stuff we probably now regret. I blame this on Mercury having been retrograde since the 13th. That mischievous planet turned direct yesterday (whew, finally!), and Smoko seems to be simmering down too. (Speaking of astrology, I see that Ann C. is a fellow Fish. Prince Louie was amazed to learn that she’s a Pisces, but it could be that she has several planets conjunct in another sign, as do I.)

    Agent Jane Dystel wasn’t able to place my book with a publisher a decade or so ago (it included pieces from my mother’s newspaper column of the 1950s), but she did give me some valuable advice. When she read my (initial) introduction, she told me that it was best not to use the same unusual word or phrase more than once. Apparently, I had done so.

    From then on, I find myself noticing “repeats” in the writings of others. (This might be compared to checking out the pedestrians in front of us, wondering if they too are in pain from a recent foot injury.)

    I’m now reading Ruth Reichl’s latest book, GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES. Earlier, I had enjoyed her TENDER AT THE BONE and COMFORT ME WITH APPLES. She writes with a lot of humor, and I know that I’ll like this one. But I was shocked to see that she too “repeats” herself.

    She describes being interviewed by the various honchos (editors) at The New York Times. She writes that, after she answered one of the questions, "He looked a little taken aback." A few pages later in the book (she’s still being interviewed by Biggies), she informs us that "They looked taken aback." If Ruth hadn’t picked up on this after giving the book a final proof, why wasn’t it noticed by one of the book editors--the copy editor, at least?

    On my “Small Annoyances” post, Dreamy wrote that we’d have to “shut down half the publishing world” if I continued to nitpick like this. But what’s that got to do with the price of pantyhose in upper Slobovia? Better we should encourage writers to be a little more careful.

    “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning

    Kitty Persnickety

  2. #2
    Kitty Foyle

    Re: "Persnickety" Strikes Again


    I shouldn't have enclosed Robert Browning's little ditty in quotes, as his name was mentioned as the originator. Right?


  3. #3
    Selena Dreamy

    Re: "Persnickety" Strikes Again

    You know, Kitty-baby, you're right. I re-edited my entire ms of 100.000 words and guess what. I found myself repeated twice in chapters as far apart as 2 and 14.

    And yet, it stuck out like a sore thumb.

    Nonetheless!! I don't know about the price of pantyhose in upper Slobovia, but I do know that Britons drink 11 litres of pure alcohol a head each year, the equivalent of 28 bottles of vodka, and I'm reasonably certain none of them would have noticed.


  4. #4
    Misti Wolanski

    Re: "Persnickety" Strikes Again

    I agree about the odd words, but sometimes a phraseology that others find odd strike others as natural.

    I've had a friend scold me for using "svelte" once, which she'd never seen before, and I'd learned from a Star Wars novel of all things. (No, I'm not a SW junkie.)

    I have the same trouble with drawing. I'm awkward and terribly coordinated (my shoulder meets doorways rather often). When I draw, positions that I would stand in, etc., come out unnatural.

    I guess I'm trying to make an extended analogy.

    Also, what precisely is the point you're making with this thread?


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