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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Punctuation Celebration: Pilcrow!

As I am currently knee-deep in red ink from my first revision of Blackwatch, I thought it would be prudent to recruit some help. I've got 60,000+ words to sort through, multiple characters that may or may not be essential to the story, not to mention some truly awful dialogue.

Every time I try to cut a character, they convince me that it's better to keep them in. Some of them guilt me into submission while others threaten me with bodily harm. I started out having total control over this manuscript, but now, well it's taken on a life of its own!

For my own safety, I've enlisted a troop of hardened characters, or 'marks' if you will. This crew has been around for centuries, helping authors sort through the jumble of misspelled words and hackneyed dialogue. They cut and bump and interject wherever they see a need.

I found the ringleader of my little gang while he was working as a bouncer at a shabby jazz club in New Orleans. The place was a mess. Some of the foulest words I've ever seen were sitting at the bar, doing shots of ink and graphite. A pair of parentheses kept trying to get on either side of a word, trying to lead him over to a dollar sign with gold teeth. This was the type of place where young words could earn their capital letters.

I watched as a pair of <'s tried to get in the club, though they were clearly not old enough. The bouncer turned them aside. An @ sign and an ampersand in the club tried to tell him that they were with them. Words were exchanged, asterisks were thrown and when the dust settled, only the bouncer remained standing.

"What's your name?" I asked him. He shoved the trouble-making words and characters out of the way, shifting the entire line that had formed outside.

"Pilcrow," he said deeply. He was top-heavy and only ever faced in the direction of those words that needed a nudge. He was unafraid to throw his weight around, knowing that he could move sentences, paragraphs, whole chapters if he had to. Woe betide the careless writer who did not properly format his page settings, lest the mighty Pilcrow shift the whole manuscript out of whack. Such a powerful character, I had yet to encounter.

"Well, Pilcrow," I says, "How'd you like to do some real editing done? Some red-work? Get out of this hell-hole of flash fiction and get into something with some substance."

It was an easy sell. Now Pilcrow is on my side and my characters have stopped their bickering. If they thought I was simply going to shift their appearances around, they're sorely mistaken. Pilcrow introduced me to some other characters he knows, some more ruthless than him.

Stay tuned next week to see who else has joined my Revisionist gang!


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