Guest Blogger Michele Drier – Keeping it Real

SNAP_Jazz_050914 Keeping it Real by Michele Drier

Because I write in two genres—traditional mystery and paranormal romance—I’ve been reading a LOT of genre fiction over the last few years and I see some scary trends.

One of them is what I call verbalization: Taking perfectly good nouns and turning them into not so good verbs. So many of these come from the jargon that various careers develop.

Two of the ones that make my jaw ache are exit and task.

“He exited…” No, he “left”, he “went out” he “walked away.” An exit is a freeway ramp…unless it’s a stage direction.

“She tasked me with…” No, “She gave me a task,” “I performed my task” “She told me (or asked me) to do…”

I know that English is a constantly evolving language, but let’s not slip into the trap of using these buzzwords. There are more than a million words in English today…don’t forget to use those good old Anglo-Saxon and Norman French words that gave birth to English as such a vibrant language.

And please, study up on verb tenses. The past tense of “sink” is not “sunk.” It’s “sank.” As in “She sank to her knees in grief.”

One popular writer will use this and it’s as though the dam bursts…inaccurate words escaping everywhere!

The other frightening trend is lack of basic research.

I read a book by a NYTimes best seller (romantic suspense) and the author talked about the “1859 Gold Rush.” The author supposedly lived in Northern California. How could s/he not know it was 1849?

I will not read any more books by this author since s/he was too lazy to look up one crucial fact.

Most recently, I read another romantic suspense where the author had one character in the epilogue say “well, the company is community property.”

The entire tension and plot of the book hinged on an inheritance of a company from a grandfather. This was sole and separate property and would not become community property simply because of a marriage.

I write fiction, but I care enough about my readers to make sure basic information is correct and accurate, to use as many action verbs as I can, to not write jargon because it’s fast and easy. I’m asking my readers to come into my made-up worlds and devote a few hours to my stories—I owe it to them not to use false facts.my_bio_pix

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
SNAP: All That Jazz, Book Eight of The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was awarded second place by the Paranormal Romance Guild’s reviewers for best paranormal vampire book of 2014. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles also won for best series in 2014. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles include SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, DANUBE: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Night and SNAP: All That Jazz. SNAP: I, Vampire, Book Nine in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles is scheduled for publication early 2015.
She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2015.

0 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Michele Drier – Keeping it Real”

  1. Mistakes, mistakes. They seem to become easier to make and harder to spot! I do think the 1859 thing could have been a typo that slipped into the manuscript at some point in production. I’ve made a few outright scary mistakes myself–Parthenon for Pantheon (oops! caught in draft by my cousin, a fabulous proofreader, thank goodness!) and the like. Wherever they arise, Michele is absolutely right, errors and typos diminish the author’s credibility and distract the reader. I just finished reading a book with a bunch of mistakes I don’t think the author would have made: garden sheers (not shears); peaked through the clouds (not peeked); the horn whales intermittently (not wails). The book was “print on demand,” and do authors receive galleys of all the electronic and print versions of their books to proofread? I don’t know. And, if they’re proofing their own work, can they even see the errors on the third or fourth version? Multiple versions may make errors more likely to occur and less likely to be found. Except by us eagle-eyed readers!

    1. I agree that mistakes are easier to make and harder to spot — especially if one is cutting and pasting using the computer to revise writing. Between “autocorrect” and my own sloppiness, it is frightening.

  2. Great post – I agree – when someone started saying that they had gotten a review where one of the things they needed to become better at was dialoguing, I couldn’t believe it – still resist that one – I wasn’t sure why communicating or talking wasn’t perfectly fine. LOL

  3. Hi, Michele — Great post. The sad thing is that so many books these days are coming out with errors. I’m a great library user, and I frequently pick up books where the errors have been marked by another reader. I can almost hear a “tsk, tsk” as I read. A lot of it comes down to the fact that publishers have cut back on the number of editors they have.

    1. Grace,
      You make a good point about the books coming out with errors, but I’m saddened to hear about people defacing library books. While it might seem nice to point out the errors, I hate when someone doesn’t return a library book in the same condition that they checked it out.

  4. Great post Michele. I had a speech instructor in college who informed us on day one that we would fail his class if we used An, And, Hundred, and Because incorrectly in our final speech which we had to give in an auditorium from stage. Those words needed to be somewhere in our final dialogue! To this day I cringe when folks say “becuz”… “almost everyone” on the news says “becuz!!!

  5. Thanks so much for hosting me, Debra! And thanks to all who’ve posted…it looks as though I hit a nerve!. And V Weisfeld, you’re absolutely right about homophones. Loved the wailing whales!

  6. I’m guilty of turning nouns into verbs for fun, but I don’t do it in my writing, unless its an eclectic character’s dialog. There are too many people who read (mysteries especially) and find a typo or mistake and bash you for it.

    Autocorrect is my enemy. I end up with all kinds of strange things, so I religiously turn autocorrect off on every platform.

    And I’ve noticed it’s easier to spot errors in someone else’s work, but unless I’ve been asked to point out errors, I don’t. Life is too short, you know?

  7. Terrific post, Michele. I try very hard to check my facts, but I’m sure I’ve screwed up along the way. Fortunately I haven’t heard about them. I make up words, but I don’t use them in my books. Now I’m going to check my WIP more carefully. 🙂

  8. Thanks so much for the comments Maggie and Polly, they mean a lot coming from writers whom I admire. And yes, I can end up with a typo or two that doesn’t get caught in the many reads. After my diatribe, I have to admit I made up a verbalization of my own in my current WIP. A woman, carrying her phone, purse and a cup of coffee, “hulas her way” through the outdoor tables. Just shoot me now,LOL!

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