Thursday 23 February 2012

Edits 10 & 11 Completed – pace, and point of view and some oddities

 I am now getting very close to being able to send this out into the world. I may even enter it for another competition – it is already in one. It gets harder and harder to edit objectively. Yes, it seems to have pace to me. But have I limited what I mean by pace? Am I just adhering to my own take on this? Tension mounts in all three strands of the story. I’ve noticed the chapters get shorter as this happens. Then right at the end they become longer again – but not as long as at the beginning. This seems to be a quite natural rhythm.
Point of view is always easier to deal with and I think I’m now quite good at getting this right. I hope it’s not just a matter of what an experienced published writer said to me recently. “Creative writing teachers always like to talk about point of view because it is easy to deal with.” Is it? Maybe. But hard, at first, to get right, surely? I’m actually a fan of using close third person narratives and also often use first person for young adult books. I have two different third person narratives in this and use first person for the letters. Two of the German girls and their teacher actually also have close third person chapters. However, I’m still puzzled as to why it seems right to refer to Hani’s mother as Frau Gödde a lot of the time. It just does. I guess that happens sometimes. Something works just because it does.
Bizarrely I now notice I have changed a surname and the name of a school part of the way through. Although I’ve checked for logistics, I now doubt whether one character has continuity. It just goes to show that we can edit forever and ever and how important it is to get a good objective copy edit and proof read before publication.                    

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Edit 9 Completed

I have now completed the ninth edit of the novel. This time I’ve been looking at dialogue. I find this one of the easiest edits. There is a set of checks I need to do about every single piece of dialogue.
1.      It should not be too natural
2.      It should only say important things
3.      It should differentiate characters' voices
4.      When angry, becomes childish
5.      Should take 2/3 of popular book (Ah, but is mine going to be a popular book?)
6.      Should convey mood, character and reaction
7.      Every speech should give information
I’ve included this for the voices in the girls’ letters as well. This is a tangible and easy to execute edit. It is of course also extremely important. The dialogue really carries the story. Getting this right now makes the later “show don’t tell” edit easier.
In this edit I’ve also finally decided on “Hitlerjugend” as opposed to either “Hitler Jugend” or “Hitler Youth”. However, I am half expecting an editor later to ask me to change all of the German words. The linguist in me just wants them there.   
I also smartened up one of the extra scenes I put in after the last edit.
And so it goes on and on.        

Thursday 2 February 2012

Thumbs up to the Red Cross

Yesterday we had something quite exciting in the post. We’d requested information about Clara Lehrs after she’d left Stuttgart. We knew that she’d been transported to Theresienstadt and then on to Treblinka where she was murdered. But we had very little information about her time in Rexingen. We knew she went there after she left Stuttgart. So, about three months ago we appealed to the Red Cross International Tracing Service.
And the letter arrived yesterday. It confirmed much of what we knew already form the records at Yad Vashem. But the Red Cross were also able to give us her last address in Rexingen. That makes it easier to carry on our research there.
They weren’t able to confirm the exact time and nature of her death / murder. We, with them, assume that she was killed on arrival at Treblinka. She was on transport B/r and a letter from the former Czechoslovakian Red Cross on 25 May 1951 confirms that only 10% of the people on this transport returned after the war. My other research suggests that she was taken along with other old people to a pit near the entrance to Treblinka where they were all killed by firing squad. They were probably not gassed.      
The Red Cross also included in their letter a copy of Clara’s index card which describes her transportation from Theresienstadt to Treblinka. At least the collaborators had the grace to name her Clara Lehrs on the documentation. It was Nazi practice to name her Klara Sarah Lehrs. This is how she was registered in Stuttgart.           
So thumbs up to the Red Cross Tracing Service.