Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[rant] One Space Or Two Between Sentences?

Apparently, the b/a/t/t/l/e discussion over whether to use one space or two between sentences r/a/g/e/s/o/n continues. Since I have not yet expressed my opinion on the subject, here it is:
You have got to be kidding me, right? Of all the things you could worry about in writing—characters, plot, theme and metatheme, moral center, rising and falling tension, use of language -- you’re obsessed with this?

Once upon a time, when typesetters used single-letter type or operated linotype machines with “hot lead” type, such things as two spaces made sense. Anything that made the typesetter’s job easier made sense. Editors were used to seeing those double spaces after a final period and a single space looked “wrong” and “sloppy” and – heavens! – amateurish, because it was not the norm.

Word processors have changed all that. It’s trivial to do a global search-and-replace two spaces for one. Your editor can, with a couple of clicks, make your manuscript look however she wants. (As an editor, I do this quite a lot and I don’t find it in the least annoying.)

What matters and what has always mattered is not however many spaces you put between sentences. It’s what’s in those sentences and how they fit together to create a story.

The thing is, folks get all worked up about trivialities when they're trying to avoid grappling with the harder, deeper issues. No editor is going to reject an otherwise splendid story because it has the "wrong" number of spaces. Save your passion for what really counts.

Here endeth Deborah’s rant on the subject of double spaces between sentences.

Friday, August 29, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Juliette Wade on "Gatekeepers - you're one, too"

There are always gatekeepers.

I think when we writers most commonly use the term we're thinking of editors, because editors are he most famous. We think of the magazine slushpiles and those assigned to read them, whether they be designated first readers or head editors. We think also, of course, of the agents and editors in the novel-publishing world. Gatekeepers are the ones who get to say to you,


or to put it less gracefully,


Here's the thing, though. The editors and agents aren't the only gatekeepers here. Every one of us who participates in this enterprise is a gatekeeper. It's just that the job of gatekeeping without an official title is far more complex, and more likely to go unnoticed.

Say I'm online and I get approached by someone I don't know, asking to connect or even to have a live hangout with me. How do I know that person is for real, and not some sort of spammer/scammer?


Say I'm at a convention and someone wants to come up and talk to me about my writing, or their writing, or writing, or science fiction and fantasy in general. And I have somewhere to go, or I feel uncomfortable, or I've been deluged by fans (not that this happens to me!) and have had enough, etc. etc. I say no or back out of the conversation. There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to do this. Some of them have to do with mental bandwidth and exhaustion rather than anything else.

However, this is also where inclusiveness succeeds or fails.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Tajji Diaries: Alarm Clock

Dogs, like many other animals, are Creatures of Schedule. They seem to feel most secure when recurring events are predictable – the sun comes up, monkeys get up, we go walkies, then breakfast, then nap, then playtime…and so forth. They love rituals, like the one Dave has created for putting on the harness. It’s a version of Keepaway, with great romps through the living room, corridors, and open dining area. Her body language says it’s great fun, and she stands willingly when it’s all over. Interestingly, Tajji understands that this is a game to be played only with Daddy Monkey. Mommy Monkey is all business when it comes to gearing up, hence the harness is donned not in the living (Keepaway) area but in the mudroom.

To everything there is a season…
A time to pounce on cats, a time to be rubbed against,
A time to nap, a time to romp,
A time to cuddle on the monkeys’ bed, a time when doggies are not allowed on the bed…
A time to be lazily retired, and a time to impose order on the household.

Now that Tajji has settled into her new family, she feels it is incumbent upon her as the resident dog to impose some degree of order upon her monkeys. We noticed very early on that if either of us closed the door behind us and it did not latch, Tajji would very shortly poke her nose in, ascertain we were okay, and then withdraw. She was keeping an eye on us! (This was a little disconcerting at first in the bathroom.)

Monkeys and doggie do not always agree on what constitutes a proper daily schedule. Dave gets up quite early, but especially when I’ve had a rough night, I’ll sleep in, hauling myself out of bed between 7:30 and 8:00 am.

Tajji has other ideas.