Monday, 4 May 2015

'His head literally exploded.'

According to the current Writing Magazine, the latest edition of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage says it's now acceptable to use 'literally' in a metaphorical sense.  So what word does one use when one wants to say that something literally did happen?

No-one is going to think that someone's head literally did explode (unless, I suppose, it's a battlefield scene). But what if someone was literally dancing with rage? Or was literally as white as a sheet? Was he or wasn't he?

I'm currently editing the novel I hope to publish soon, a crime/mystery set in Victorian London. One piece of advice to writers that I've found useful, and am trying to put into practice, is to be sure to extract every last piece of drama and tension from a scene. This obviously doesn't apply if two characters are discussing the case over a cup of tea. But if the heroine is in peril, then give her even more reason to be afraid, make the consequences of failure even more catastrophic. Without, one hopes, tipping over into purple prose and Gothic horror!

I'm also checking that all the small details of the plot hang together. When cutting, or changing the order of scenes and events, it's easy for something to fall through the cracks, so a crucial piece of information wasn't shared when it should have been, or one character tells another about something she has not yet done.

Then it will be one final read through for typos, missing punctuation marks, and so on, before uploading.

Then on to the next one.