Proof of how quickly time goes by. This review for Evolve Two came out around Halloween, and I meant to post it and comment it, but completely failed. Here’s the post, about two months later than expected. Part of the problem was that I didn’t have access to certain files I wanted to reference, since I was still transitioning from laptop to netbook and I’d only moved over the stuff I needed most at the time. Also, it was NaNoWriMo and November was busy being a hectic month. And then after that it was just easier to not blog than to blog.
So, click the link to the review above, then come back.
The reviewer goes into fairly insightful detail for each short story and part of the reason, though not all of the reason, why my story (Six Underground) doesn’t work for him is because he found a mistake. Here’s a bit of what he has to say (for context: jurors in a deliberation room…):
On page 57 (the first vote), we’re told that the count is “[o]ne guilty, and eleven for acquittal” [...] But then on page 60 (the second vote), we are told that the count is now “nine guilty votes and two in favor of reviewing the evidence.” That’s not a typo; that’s a jarring full stop that completely pulls us out of the story, while we sit back and say, “Wait, what?” since only two characters have changed their vote to guilty.
On a linguistic scale, it might not seem like a very big mistake, but it changed the whole logic of a sentence, which meant that it contradicted “the story so far” and threw him out of the narrative, as I suspect it would for anyone who noticed. What strikes me is how, for the most part, it clearly wasn’t noticed. Others have reviewed the story and not mentioned it, so either they saw it and it didn’t bother them or they read it the way I must have read it, with their brains filling in the details it expected to see regardless of actual words on the page. Sort of a literary equivalent of the McGurk Effect, I suppose.
I’ve had time now to go back through all the drafts of the story, because I wanted to see where the error was introduced. My initial thought was that it was something I’d “fixed” in haste at the last second because I’d noticed it and thought it was wrong (during the edit phase, when the editor got back to me with a couple of things she thought would improve the story, I know I changed a few sentences). Turns out that wasn’t it, this sentence was wrong from the beginning, though it was wrong in a different way. In the first two drafts the line was, “The vote was nine to two in favour of reviewing the evidence.” What’s great about that line is that even though the words were very different, the logic was still completely wrong.
Wait, that’s not great at all…
So… let’s see. I screwed it up once, and then along the way I must have read it at least two dozen times myself, going so far as to change the sentence to another wrong form. It was wrong the first way through two drafts, and wrong differently through the next four (yes, I revise a lot. Some revisions are big, some are rapid read-throughs for grammar and spelling). My writing group also passed it over, the editor read it at least once, probably more than that, and still this stupid little logical error survived six drafts and into publication.
Un-fucking-real. Bastard little word-cockroaches… you can’t even nuke them…
So now the question is how to stop it from happening again. Ultimately, it’s my fault, because I put those words there, and the only person who should be expected to stop it from happening again is me. But now that has me questioning every single word I put down to paper/screen. I suppose that’s the key – always trying to be a more careful writer. Not to mention a more careful reader, so that these things can be caught before publication. It’s hard to fix things if you can’t find them.
For the Resolutions: I might start tracking these on a weekly basis. I haven’t decided yet whether I think daily updates clutters up the page for nothing or not.
2012 Resolution Progress:
6121/1,000,000 words written (0.61%)
5/5 days blogged (Target: 366/366)
2/2 Days cafeteria avoidance (No real target)