Monday, October 31, 2011

Lost In Translation

Hello, Halloween. I'm glad you're here.

There's nothing better than a holiday that allows you to dress up and play pretend. Everyone else is doing it, so it's the one day of the year that you can be a kook and it's socially acceptable. Try putting on your costume any other time.

No seriously, try it.

Anyway, the chintzy decorations and random table toppers are out full force at chez-BBC and this year brought an extra something special to the table. Literally.


What the hell does this even mean? Without starting a conversation about outsourcing, I'll tell you that I got smart and flipped over the plate. It's made in China, and I'm guessing it's supposed to say "Boo!"

I find this kind of thing happens in writing as well, and I don't mean in the linguistic sense.

A lot of the time, we writers know what we're trying to say, but it's not getting across in our text. Sure, we might think our character is a suave ladies-man because we see him that way, but every one of our beta readers is saying, "Ewww, he's a creep."

Your brain might be saying "Boo!" but your book says "Scare!"

Listen to your betas, they are wise. Even if you don't particularly like your betas, or have respect for their writing skills, remember what they primarily are - readers. They are a prototype of the average person you want to put your book in front of.

And if the betas are scratching their heads, your reader will be too.

As a side note, I've been running around yelling "Scare!" at people after jumping out from corners all day. Trust me, not the same effect.

3 comments:

Anna said...

That is such a great example. Sometimes it's hard to remember what you wrote down and what's just in your head. Thanks!

Jo-Ann said...

Great example!
It pays to ponder every word, and to re-re-read, and experiment with different versions before you feel confident that this draft best represents what you meant and can go out to the world. And by "to the world" I mean to the beta-reader.

Mindy McGinnis said...

I'm glad you ladies could enjoy my incorrect plate as much as I do. I giggle every time I take it out of the dishwasher.