Feb 25, 2015

Koala (not) Bears

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, February 25, 2015 3 comments
I am currently reading a book that came highly recommended. I have to say, I'm really enjoying it - except for one, teeny, tiny, niggling point... koala's aren't bears!

In the book the author makes a reference to "koala bears". She did that many pages ago but I can't let it go. So please excuse my little lecture.

I know they look like real-life teddy bears, but they are just called koalas. I'm not being pedantic. They aren't called bears because they aren't bears.

Bears are mammals. They give birth to live young who have developed in-utero receiving nutrients via a placenta.

Koalas are marsupials. They give birth to live young who haven't received nutrients in-utero via a placenta. Instead the young are born much earlier than mammals (an earlier embryonic stage) and travel to a pouch where they attach themselves to a teat and remain there for weeks or months to complete their development.

Like I said, only a teeny point. But as an Australian reader it grated and pulled me from the story. Not helped by the fact I am also an environmental scientist, which is probably why I haven't been able to let it go.

I guess it just shows that readers will notice any error that slips through edits.

Has an incorrect fact in a book ever distracted you from the story?

Feb 18, 2015

Opening Sentences

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, February 18, 2015 4 comments

Thursday, March 17th, I spent the morning in anxiety, the afternoon in ecstasy, and the evening unconscious. 
"Risk" by Dick Francis

In defense of Althalus, it should be noted that he was in very tight financial circumstances and more than a little tipsy when he agreed to undertake the theft of the Book. 
 "The Redemption of Althalus" by David and Leigh Eddings

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. 
 "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by JK Rowling

I'd never given much thought to how I would die - though I'd had reason enough in the last few months - but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
 "Twighlight" by Stephenie Meyer

I love first sentences. To be drawn in from the first few words is something I look for in a book. The above 4 examples are all written by some of the world's most successful authors, and all are favourites of mine. But I've never really thought about these sentences. What draws my interest? When I started to consider it I realised they all do the same thing:
  • they all introduce something about the characters - and in all but the Harry Potter example, the main characters
  • they all make me ponder a question - What could cause such a range of emotions in one day? What is the Book and why would Althalus not agree to steal it unless he was tipsy? Why would you need to be able to say you were normal, let alone be proud of it? How was she dying if it wasn't something you could imagine?
  • by making me ponder a question I have to read on to find my answer (they immediately captured me)
  • they are all 'different', original openings
  • they are all simple - simple language and simple ideas 
Do you have a favourite first sentence?

Feb 11, 2015

How many words?

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, February 11, 2015 4 comments

I've been thinking about daily writing goals. There seem to be so many different approaches: 

Image source here
  • write for a minimum of xx minutes
  • write a minimum of xx words
  • the words can be draft
  • the words must be polished
I like this quote by Arthur Hailey...

I set myself 600 words a day as a minimum output, regardless of the weather, my state of mind or if I’m sick or well. There must be 600 finished words–not almost right words.

600 words is a doable number. I like his philosophy - you write regardless of anything. I even like the idea the words should be finished words. For someone like me with a strong desire to edit, it would save time the next day and let me move on. 

I'm just not sure that I agree they should be finished finished. I think reasonably finished would work for me, Enough that I'm not tempted to go back and edit. 

I'm going to give this a shot and see if it does work for me.

What is your daily writing goal?

Feb 4, 2015

Star Gazing

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, February 04, 2015 0 comments
Moon photo taken with The Hubs mobile phone
Out for dinner at a friends recently we commented on the wonderful view of the night sky they had from their deck. Seeing we were interested they dragged out their (mammoth) telescope and we spent an enjoyable hour looking at the moon, stars and planets.

It was a wonderful evening. The moon's surface was clearly visible. What we hadn't realised before, though, was how quickly the moon is actually moving through the night sky. We'd get the telescope lined up, but within minutes we'd be having to adjust because it would have passed out of view.

We also discovered there are some amazing apps out there (of course) to help you navigate the night sky. I put Google's 'Sky Map' on my phone, which for a free app worked really well.

Have you ever gazed at the stars?

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