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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Learning "Logic"




This is my September post for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers' Support Group.  Click on the link and scroll to the bottom to find other participants.

When my daughter was in eighth grade, her English teacher focused on teaching the class how to write a clear essay.  They spent an entire term working on one piece, probably about 500 words in length.  In the end, their grade for that time period was based on weekly spelling tests and the one paper.  Over the course of the term, the students met one-on-one with the teacher.  She read and commented on their drafts, before sending the essays home with them so they could make corrections and pass in their best work.  

Close to the due date, my daughter arrived home with her draft paper, marked with the teacher’s red ink and the word “logic” jotted next to several paragraphs.  There was no explanation beside the word, and when I asked my daughter what the teacher meant, she was as confused as me.  I had to read the paper a few times to understand that “logic” at least to her teacher, meant a lack of logic, or lack of sequence…that my daughter had referred to something early in the paper she hadn’t explained yet.

Once I figured it out, I showed it to her, and she muddled through making her changes. Eventually she turned in a paper that earned her an acceptable grade, while I discovered sometimes, mothers learn things when they end up being the teacher too.

And, boy oh boy, do I get logic now.  I’ve been digging into edits on my novel, called Honeydew Ever After  (Yes, folks, you read it here first!!).  It’s been a lot of work, but I thought things were going pretty smoothly until screeeeech!!  I had to slam on the breaks once I realized I had a character reacting to a conversation that takes place later in the manuscript.  Of course the mistake had ripple effects.  That eighth grade teacher’s red ink might have run out on me.

I was at the point where I’ve read this thing so many times, and made so many changes, I missed something  apparent.  But, finding it was as good a wake up call as I could have asked for.  I’ve been plodding along with this idea that I’m getting close enough now, that the work remaining is the details.  Nope.  It’s in the big picture, too.  The lesson I learned this week is, if you have any question at all, take another look.  It may be the one that identifies a doozy.

18 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Sometimes that's why setting a manuscript aside for a month or so is a good thing. It helps you see those flaws.

Good job figuring out what you daughter's teacher wanted/meant!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was a vague comment - logic!
Finding that one thing that needs to be fixed and then watching it ripple all over the manuscript can be a downer. So much to fix...

Old Kitty said...

Honeydew Ever After!! Love it!! Take care
x

Kirsten said...

Aahh, revision.
In the heat of first draft everything is possible, but now my novel has to make sense? Argh indeed.
I suppose the good news is that all this stuff is fixable.Thanks for sharing one way to look at this.
I'll keep my red pen ready!

glnroz said...

logic? I reckon it is just someones point of view...which is which. I like your word arrangement...I'm just sayin'

mshatch said...

I've caught stuff like that in my work as have my crit partners. I don't know how I ever wrote anything decent without them.

Allison said...

I find that is why I need someone to critique my work--I get so close to it that I miss big things!

Allison (Geek Banter)

Johanna Garth said...

Isn't it funny how something can seem so logically connected when we're writing it. In a way this is the beauty of writing because it forces us to keep uncovering and putting words to all the layers until the story is perfect.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

I've always wondered about this problem with writing a longer piece such as a novel. It must be tough to make sure everything works out just right.
I spent some time correcting English papers for a teacher once and it taught me a lot as well.
Love the title of the book. Sounds interesting...

Arlee Bird said...

It's good that your daughter's teacher spent such time with detail, but I think I would have gone nuts spending the entire term on one essay. I used to love writing essays in school and I think that the constant writing with feedback was pretty effective.

I haven't gotten into the detailed editing of any of my long writing, but I can't say that I'm looking forward to it.


Lee
Wrote By Rote

J. B. Chicoine said...

It's amazing how many time we can go over our manuscript and still find issues--in fact, the more we revise, the more likely we are to create and then overlook those 'logic' problems.

The good news is, the more we revise and edit, the better we get at it. There is a lot to be said for letting it sit between revision stages. It does lend some objectivity. Persistence pays! :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm glad you caught it yourself. I don't care much for that class your daughter took though students do need to be able to write essays.

Nancy Thompson said...

As a new editor, I totally get that teacher's idea of logic. What's in the writer's mind does not necessarily translate well to the page. The writer must describe with every sense and and emotion available, and they must prove, however outlandish, that the idea is credible.

Andrew Leon said...

That's one of those things where it's really good to have another reader other than yourself going over the manuscript. It's hard, sometimes, for the author to see those things.

But they get past even big time books, as I just found one in a "significant" sci-fi novel where a character asks a question about something that the main character has not yet mentioned.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Love, love, LOVE that title! I know what you mean about how it is to work so long at a piece of work that you can't really "see" it any more. One thing that helps me is to send the manuscript to my kindle. Somehow, reading it there gives it a whole new "feel" that allows me to see it with fresh eyes.

Clay said...

Great title and a post with awesome advice to help me tackle my ms. Thank you! Cheers

Rose Munevar said...

You read my mind! Nice to meet you- making the rounds from the Insecure Writers Group.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

This is why I try to read as many writing books as I can while I'm working on the first draft. I especially love Donald Maass's books Breakout Novel and The Fire in Passion. It's like he puts a fire under me. I'm suddenly on fire for the characters and the plot, and I feel inspired to write from a much deeper place. What really made me sit up and notice was when I started reading about other authors feeling this exact same way. I'm not weird after all. LOL.

Great post, Liza.