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Exercise #89 Prep

Exercise #89: Prep
Posted 11/27/04 - 1/6/05

Here are the “fodder” pieces submitted by The Desk Drawer listmembers from 11/27/04 through 1/6/05.

Submitted by Chas Ridley::

1. From A Time to Dance, by Karen Kingsbury
Words: 11
This is Christian women's fiction, a story of reconciliation, and Abbey and John are the main characters.
“Abbey's eyes slid to the floor as she spoke with John.”

OK, so now I'm out of the story. Is it just me (and I know it's not because of previous discussions with other women writers) or do you, too, imagine this woman having to chase her eyeballs across the floor? Does she do that while still speaking or does silence prevail during the chase? Has the genre changed to hysterical horror?

2. From A Time to Embrace (sequel to 2001's A Time to Dance), by Karen Kingsbury
Words: 14
This is also Christian women's fiction, a story of coming to terms with  great tragedy, and Abbey and John are once again the main characters.
“Abbey's eyes fell to her plate while the others happily enjoyed their dinner conversation.”

OK, once again I'm out of the story. Again, I know it's not just me because of previous discussions with other  women writers, but I immediately imagine this woman having to wash the food off of her eyeballs, the pop them back into place.  Medical mystery -- why won't her eyes stay in their sockets? Horror -- exploding eyeballs? Or just a moment of hysteria in the midst of a serious story? And the "others" enjoying their dinner conversation -- are they people or eyeballs? Yes, I've been told before that a less literal outlook on life might be healthier.


Submitted by Jo Best:

1. From How To Get Hung, by Molly Barnes with Pat Hilton
Words: 15
This is a practical guide for emerging artists.  I found this in the Introduction.
“They are creative.  Passionate. Poets of the future, visionaries. Individualistic. Committed. Caring. Idealistic, nonconformist, crazy.”
In the above paragraph, it seems to me there are too many single word sentences that are not able to stand alone like the words: Stop or Look. would. Also two of the sentences are nothing but a series of  adjectives without a subject or predicate.

2. From A Round-Heeled Woman, by Jane Juska
Words: 255

This is an autobiography of an older woman who places an ad to find a lover. The following paragraph  is Jane telling of her college experiences.

“I had a lot of friends once word got around that I could hold my liquor. *Peggy and I had pledged the same sorority - her grades got her in, my mother got me in - where she had pretty much given up dating in favor of studying.* I had figured out how to get B's with very little work. In my free time, I saw every movie shown in Ann Arbor between 1951 and the year of my graduation, 1955. Now recall: my hometown had one movie theater and  not even that until I was in eighth grade, Ann Arbor had three, plus the tiny one in the basement of Angell Hall where some cineast showed weird movies like Kafka's The Metamorphosis, one of the most powerful  pieces of my education. I stayed commercial and fell  passionately in love with Marlon Brando in that motorcycle movie, The Wild One. I was the small-town girl in that movie, the one Marlon Brando saves from the bad motorcycle guys who are closing in on her to do unspeakable acts. He saved me eight times, the number of times I saw the movie, I also never missed a hockey game in four years - the team gave me an autographed stick, I caught a puck-and in between, I squeezed in a few baseball and basketball games, My fall was devoted, of course, to football games. Swim meets were always fun. If  I couldn't sleep with boys, even kiss them, I could look at them, and catch their pucks. Ah, youth, ah, wilderness.”

After reading the above paragraph, I sort of 'stopped in my tracks' as I couldn't figure out if the author referred to her mother or Peggy in the last 'she' of the sentence I singled out.

3. From On The Fly, by Bruce Leonard JR., an article in the October 2004, Trailer Life magazine.
Words: 62
“I've casted for rainbows and for browns in the snow-melt alpine lakes in California's eastern Sierras; I've watched a tippet float by the nose of a silver salmon on a pristine river in British Columbia; I've gone after redfish and speckled trout in the brackish water of Louisiana's Calcasieu Lake; I've plied various streams, rivers and lakes in Montana, Wyoming and Utah.”
There is no such word as casted. Cast is the present, past and past participle of the word cast.


Submitted by Michelle Hakala:

1. The local superstitious village is burying a dead child; the village shaman chants during the service to ward off fey spirits and sing the child's soul to heaven. She has just been enveloped in a trance or vision.

From Child of Flame, by Kate Elliott
Words: 61

“That fast, the vision faded, but her lips continued to move as she chanted her spells. The moon rose higher and began to sink. Very late the mound was finished, a little thing, lonesome and forlorn in the deathly-still night. The father wiped his eyes. They gathered their tools and headed back toward the village, not without apprehensive looks behind them.”

I see several things here. First, the moon rose and sank without any time between. I'm sure the author intends this to show time passing, but that's not how it worked in my mind. Second, I have trouble with how long it takes the village to raise the mound, "a little thing." And third, the "they" in "They gathered" seems to refer to the father's eyes. Note that the villagers are not mentioned in this paragraph at all, although they are in the paragraph before this one.

2. A restful moment in a cave during travel. Sorrow and Rage are dog's names, Adica is the Hallowed One, a woman, and Alain is the man, our viewpoint.

From Child of Flame, by Kate Elliott
Words: 51

“Adica slept, hands clenched. Sorrow sniffed Adica's ear, then flopped down beside the Hallowed One and rested his huge black head on his forelegs. Doleful eyes regarded him. He rubbed Sorrow's head with his knuckles, and he grunted contentedly. Rage yipped, padding over to get a pat as well.”

Here we have major pronoun trouble. The first two sentences seem to be fine, but after that I can't always tell the difference between Alain and his dogs.

3. Warning: Religious content!
From The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren
Words: 62

“In heaven we will be reunited with loved ones who are believers, released from all pain and suffering, rewarded for our faithfulness on earth, and reassigned to do work that we will enjoy doing. We won't lie around on clouds with halos playing harps! We will enjoy unbroken fellowship with God, and he will enjoy us for an unlimited, endless forever.”

So which is it? Haloed clouds playing harps? Or Harp-playing halos on the clouds? I was also taught that all instances of "he" should be capitalized when God is the target.

4. From The Gathering Storm, by Kate Elliott
Words: 62

Our POV character is in camp, preparing for battle. The noise is getting to her and she desperately wants some time alone. Blessing is her daughter; Fulk is the captain of the army.

“Blessing's attendants woke and went about their business, but they were inclined to murmur among themselves and approach her with questions and requests and at least four times Fulk himself came in to ask her to meet with one person or another outside the tent who had a niggling concern that for some reason they felt obliged to bring to her attention.”


Submitted by Bob Burdick:

1. From Decked, by Carol Higgins Clark.
Words: 96

The following are all tag lines from dialogue.

“Gavin said, sounding a touch abrupt.”

“Veronica asked, sounding excited.”

“Gavin answered with a defensive tone.”

“Sylvie insisted.”

“She explained to everyone at the table.”

“Veronica cried.”

“Hardwick replied with a knowing smile.”

“With one voice, Kenneth, Dale, Sylvie, Cameron and Gavin said no, almost knocking their chairs over as they jumped up.”

“Mario grunted.”

“Mario muttered as he examined a sesame-seed breadstick.”

“Immaculata said emphatically.”

“Mario announced as he buttered his roll.”

“Immaculata continued unabated.”

“Immaculata said as she patted his cheek.”

“I don't care, Gavin thought wildly, his eyes riveted on the closet door.”


Submitted by Sharon Tabor Warren:

1. Because I was reading Charms for the Easy Life, by Kaye Gibbons
Words: 27

“I had put a paring knife, two hand towels, and a bottle of Merthiolate on one of those Coca-Cola trays with the Gibson Girl on them.”

I know old Coca Cola trays were decorated with paintings of the Gibson Girl but I thought this sentence hard to read -- almost like the Gibson Girl was sitting on the tray with the knife, towels and Merthiolate. The tray was prepared for the narrator's grandmother who was about to perform the surgery of wart removal.


Submitted by Mamie Hanscom:

1. From AWAY, by Jane Urquhart
Words: 40

“She was told a story at twelve that calmed her down and put her in her place. Now, as an old woman, she wants to tell this story to herself and the Great Lake, there being no one to listen.”

Two things:
“at twelve” sounds like the time of day. I would say “when twelve”
and the second sentence seemed awkward to me.  There are several ways to rewrite this. This is one:
“Now she is an old woman, and there is no one to listen. She wants to tell this story to herself and the Great Lake.”

2. From The Pickwick Papers II by Charles Dickens
Words: 120

“Old Wardle led the way to a pretty large sheet of ice; and the fat boy and Mr. Weller, having shoveled and swept away the snow which had fallen on it during the night, Mr. Bob Sawyer adjusted his skates with a dexterity which to Mr. Winkle was perfectly marvellous, and described circles with his left leg, and cut figures of eight; and inscribed upon the ice, without once stopping for breath, a great many other pleasant and astonishing devices, to the excessive satisfaction of Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, and the ladies: which reached a pitch of positive enthusiasm, when old Wardle and Benjamin Allen, assisted by the aforesaid Bob Sawyer, performed some mystic evolutions which they called a reel.”

It was obvious that Dickens was fascinated by commas and semi-colons! [Also one colon in this paragraph.] There were many such passages in the book. Besides being a  very long running sentence the first few lines are confusing to me. I double checked, but it is exactly the way it was written. "Marvelous" is misspelled according to our dictionary, at least.


Submitted by Sally French:

1. From Bee Season, by Myla Goldberg
Words: 25

The tale of Eliza as she rises from classroom obscurity to blinding lights and outsized expectations of National  Spelling Bee. The writer contradicts herself.

First she writes: “...she spots her father in the audience...”

Then she says: “...Eliza stares into the audience, trying to find her family, but is blinded by the stage lights...”


Submitted by Nicole Combs:

1. From The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul, by Douglas Adams
Words: 91

“They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness motif with brutal shapes and nerve-jangling colors, to make effortless the business of separating the traveler forever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveler ewith arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tie racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not.”


Submitted by Beth Matsoukis:

1. From a monthly newsletter. 
Words: 119

One of my regular contributors is a fantastic leader with excellent technical and tactical military skills.  However, his written communication skills need some work.  He has good thoughts. He just has a hard time expressing them in a organized fashion. That, along with weak word choices and awkward grammar, make his submissions a challenge to edit. The following text is an excerpt from his last submission.

“Thank you all for a good year.  Although this year was a little crazy for all of us with all the deployments that was going on in our State, we did well.  Planning was very difficult for the leaders because everything was always last minute changes. Hopefully, this new year, we will settle down to a more regular routine but challenging training.  But if it is not, we will continue to drive on and complete whatever mission is given to us. That is why it is so important for us to prepare ourselves and our personal equipment to be ready for anything. At times, things might seem redundant.  But remember, whatever we do, it is training.”

2. From a flyer for a blood drive.
Words: 25

“Donating blood this winter could mean the difference between life and death for as many as 3 people. Your time and donation really do count.”

I think the first sentence is missing something. It makes it sound like only 3 people will benefit from the blood drive. I think they should have explained that the pint *you* donate could help 3 people.

3. From a financial report.
Words: 56

“Financially literate - an individual is financially literate if he has the ability to read and understand a set of financial statements that present a breadth of complexity of accounting issues that are generally comparable to the breadth and complexity of the issues that can reasonably be expected to be raised by the Company's financial statements.”

I read many financial reports every day as part of my job. I've been doing this for a decade and I thought I had seen it all when it came to financial reporting, but I learned a new word last week. They described the members of their audit committee as being “financially literate.”


Submitted by Sharon Poppen:

1. From Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown
Words: 46

At the end of one paragraph on page 103 he writes, “He had no shortage of takers, and once they found out what he could do with a computer, they never wanted to let him go.”

Then near the end of the very next paragraph, Brown writes, “He'd been fired by two different employers for using their business accounts to upload pornographic photos to some of his friends.”

Okay, which is it? They never wanted let him go or they fired this computer genius?

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