All the recent talk about people being “offended” and “sensitivity readers” is just annoying. But they aren’t really connected. This is two different mini-topics: perception and censorship.
People have every right to perceive anything they see or hear in any way they want. And they have a right to be “offended” if that’s how they want to spend their time. Shrug. Fine by me.
However, whether they are offended is a direct function of their own perception. Being offended is a choice. In other words, whether they’re offended and whether they choose to belabor the point (as I am doing here) is completely up to them.
So they can be offended if that’s what they choose to do, but they have ZERO right to force anyone else to care that they’re “offended.”
And I don’t care. And I’m not sorry that I don’t care. I simply have better ways to spend my time.
In fact, I’m about as concerned about what might offend someone else as they are about what might offend me. Like, for instance, people whose hobby is being offended.
If people say something about me personally, I don’t get offended. If what they say is true (only I know, after all) I either change or I don’t. If it isn’t true, I consider the source and move on.
Censorship is not all right in a land where the constitution guarantees free speech. Period.
Writers, maybe above all others, should know and practice that.
One comment on Dean’s post from yesterday struck me. A first reader for a writer’s book about the civil war was “offended” (there’s that word again) that the soldiers used firearms. Seriously.
I actually laughed out loud.
Topic: White Space
A friend recently sent me an article from Word Count: Writers Talk About Writing (https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wc/). The title of the article, by Micheal Lydon, is “Making the White Space Talk.”
(Note: You have to subscribe to Visual Thesaurus to read the full original article. Based on some of the titles and bits there, I do not personally recommend it.)
In the article, which my friend copied and pasted into an email, the author talks about what he calls “white space.”
As I proceeded through the article, I realized what he’s calling white space is actually paragraphing.
More specifically, he’s talking about endings (and by extension, beginnings) of chapters.
Mr. Lydon notes that
“White space at the end of a chapter pauses the book’s narrative flow, allowing readers a brief rest. At the same time the white space points readers to the next chapter in such a way that, once rested, they’ll gladly take up their journey once again.”
But as I pointed out to my friend, it’s not only true for chapters.
The “rest” the author talks about is important at the end of every sentence. It’s why we have end punctuation (.?!:).
But more to the point, the “ending” (final sentence or two) is vastly important both to give the reader pause and to propel him to the next microscene, scene, chapter and book.
In every case, the ending of that microscene, scene, chapter or book “sells” the reader on what coming next. It makes him turn the page or buy the next book. It causes him to want to keep reading your work.
Likewise, the beginning of the next microscene, scene, chapter or book sells the reader on that microscene, scene, chapter or book.
Those endings most often are called “cliffhangers.” When written right, they’re always tension filled, though that tension takes on different forms depending on the genre.
One other related note: Hitting the Return (Enter) key also has a great deal to do with pacing. It’s difficult to maintain a reader in a breathless state if your paragraphs are hundreds of words long.
As a general rule of thumb, longer paragraphs slow readers down. Shorter paragraphs speed them up and propel them through what they’re reading.
Whether and how much paragraph length affects pacing are also factors of how one paragraph ends and the next begins too.
Readers aren’t garbage chutes. They’re human beings. As such, they’re more amenable to swallowing and digesting smaller bites than massive chunks. Just sayin’.
Today, and Writing
Rolled out just before 4 again. If memory serves, each time I’ve done that recently, I’ve had a good writing day. I’ll be interested to see what happens in that regard today.
Currently (6 a.m.) I’m sitting outside with my coffee and my laptop, writing this stuff and finishing a good cigar.
To the Hovel about 8, and cycling on the novel around 8:15. Added a couple hundred new words, then to the house for some water.
Well, a lighter day today than I expected. And the novel didn’t end today.
A lot of comments on Dean’s post from yesterday at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/another-scam-firing-up/#comments. One guy turned the whole argument around. My thought? Male bovine excrement. Censorship is censorship.
His post today is nostalgic. See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-years-go-by/.
Fiction Words: 2010
Nonfiction Words: 830 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2840
Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)
Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Total fiction words for the month……… 50341
Total fiction words for the year………… 142951
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12680
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 32370
Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 175321