Sunday, April 25, 2010

I love me some italics!

My lovely wife, who is also reading The Devil You Don't Know, looked up at me sweetly the other night while we were lying in bed (she was reading the manuscript; I was watching baseball) and said: You really like italics, don't you?

I said: Who? Me? No way!

So, she showed me the page. And seemingly every other word was italicized. Whoah. I hadn't realized that.

I do like to use italics to emphasize certain words because I strive to make my dialogue as realistic as possible. But after she pointed it out, it became clear that I ... overdo it.

It's apparently a tic, like a written whole-word stutter or a lisp. I can't help it, but I can go in and change most of them. So that's my next step in the never-ending saga of trying to get TDYDK ready. I'm going in and changing three-quarters of the italicized words back to normal.


I'm also waiting to hear from three beta readers who haven't checked in at all in the three weeks that they've had the manuscript. Since I've never done this before, I don't know whether I should be worried, pissed or not concerned. So I'm going for hopeful. As in, I'm hopeful that they are taking their time because they want to do a good job since the book is so good.

Yeah. That sounds good.

Sorry for the limited posts over the weekend. It was school play weekend for the 12-year-old, which proved quite stressful and hectic. And I'm still not feeling good yet. I'm not sure what's ailing me, but I'm starting to wonder if it's allergies. I have been exhausted, had a headache, sore throat and a cough for two weeks now. Blech.

Have a wonderful Sunday night and we'll talk again tomorrow.


  1. I never pressure my beta readers. Some read fast, some slow, some never, some finish within an hour of receiving the email.

    It sure helps to have someone check over your work. Italics. That's a new one. I'm a beta for one girl who is obsessed with semicolons and "had" constructs.

    A tickler email is all right to send your betas, but don't bug em. They're doing the best they can.

    - Eric

  2. Heh. I've discovered that I have me one of them thar tics, too. ;-)

    Apparently I'm addicted to -,--, and ... while writing, and use them interchangeably

  3. I used to have a thing for italics. That has been beaten out of me. If you are relying on them, you're being lazy. Think of stronger words and phrases.

    Josin, I'm addicted to dashes and ellipsis too, mostly dashes, though. My characters are always interrupting eachother. I gotta quit that.

  4. They are scattered throughout the story quite a bit. Agreed.
    What I noticed though was that the italics are used when there is a thought in play which I think is great. I like that better than reading he thought, she thought after every thought.

    I am still loving the story and doing my best.
    It'll probably be at the end of the week. Hang in there.

  5. It must be allergies, my daughter is having a hard time too.

    And don't rush to take out those italics. If they're there, you put them there for a reason. Only your agent knows for sure if they're detracting or enhancing.

  6. Eric: Yes, I plan on leaving them alone, although a tickler email at the one-month mark doesn't seem inappropriate.

    Josin & Amanda: I'm working on it. They seem to crop up most often in dialogue, and I suspect I am merely trying to capture the actual *sound* along with the words. See? I did it there!

    Gina: I agree with you. I wasn't going to change the thoughts (I like that, too). And take your time. Please. Get your work done first, before messing with mine. You are not one of the betas I was complaining about. You and Kristy have been great at checking in and assuaging my bat-shit crazy sensitive side.

    Anne (Piedmont): I'm only going to go in and ponder each one. If there's a good reason to use italics, I'll leave it. Otherwise, it's gone. :)

  7. I think we all have our little ticks like that. My latest beta pointed out my overuse of the ellipses (I can't help it ... I love using it) and she tended to lean far too heavy on the exclamation points. It helps to have someone point it out for us though.

    I learned my lesson the first time out -- when giving a ms to a beta reader, make sure there is a clearly defined time period for them to read and respond. IE. "Yeah sure, it would be awesome if you could take a look at it, but I've got to get sending this out to agents. Are you okay, time-wise, to read it and get your thoughts back to me in three weeks?"

    This way you have a timeframe when you can kind of start riding them or pull the plug on that beta altogether. Otherwise, some people might read your ms at the pace they'd read regular books ... and for some, that isn't very quickly.

    3 = the number of wins my O's have on the season (hangs head in shame)

  8. Tracy: I'm pretty sure I DID say said something to that effect/ At the very least, I pointed out that I'd like to get it out to agents ASAP. Oh well, live and learn. :)

  9. Then in that case you do what I had to with one of mine who went AWOL. (This really only works if they aren't writers & have a hard copy version). You email them -or whatever - and casually ask if they're almost done, because you need to star querying agents & aren't supposed to have any free-floating manuscripts out while you do that.

    Yes, it's lying, but that's the betas' fault for leaving you high and dry.

  10. I use elipses and semi-colons a lot... but mostly elipses... =)

    I know how it feels to wait, that's why I'm doing it chapter by chapter. And I figure if you get it in bits and pieces it's less overwhelming than trying to look at it all at once.

  11. Sadly, I heard from the beta today and he didn't care for the book. It kind of makes me wish I hadn't heard from him, you know? :)

    Oh well. Onward.