Pacing, puns and punctuation; the holy trinity.

My new friends and fellow bloglodytes, Paula of sanseilife, and Rachel of The Cricket Pages, have been kind enough to beta read Laugh out Dead, and give me their opinions. They have given some excellent advice, as a result of which I shall be going through the book again, looking especially at pacing, about which I shall blog in the not too far distant.

Rachel and I had the following email exchange on the subjects of pacing, puns and punctuation, as a result of which I have written a new article, It’s a Punderful Life.


From: Rupert Harker
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 8:31 AM
To: Rachel Mankowitz,
Subject: Laugh Out Dead

Hi Rachel.

Here is Laugh Out Dead. I hope you enjoy the rest of it.

May I ask your opinion on one point? I have left the autopsy in chapter 3 intact. Is it too long?

Best Wishes


From: Rachel Mankowitz
Sent: Sunday, 1 February 2015, 12:45
To: Rupert Harker


I’ve made my way through chapter five so far, and it’s a wonderful read. The style reminds me of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker books, the way extraordinary events are reported as if they are ordinary and a bit droll. You need to do some copyediting, especially in chapter one, for punctuation issues. And consider why Dr. has a period at the end, but St and Mrs do not. Also, some of the place names (Putz and Munchkingrad come to mind) seem to interrupt the tone of the piece unnecessarily. The M.C. Fere versus M.C. Hammer joke is a little, eh. And the spelling of fou rir/fou rire changes.

Now for the big question, the autopsy report in Chapter three: It is a fascinating read, but, I think you are right that it is too much. It slows the narrative to almost a full stop, and it doesn’t have to. I think you’d be better off relating the specific parts of the autopsy report that Dr. Harker finds interesting, with a few extra details for fun. Maybe have him scan the report and focus in on the areas of interest and comment on them. I don’t know exactly how you’d want to do it. But there IS something great about allowing the reader to see what an autopsy report contains and treating us like professional colleagues, it just hits a wall when there’s too much information for us to process without a medical degree.

I was so glad to get to chapter five and the description of what Urban-Smith actually means by parapsychology, because it was fascinating, and because it helps take things out of the Sherlock Holmes bent. Would you consider going into more detail with that earlier?

You have something very special here. Congratulations!

Rachel M.

From: Rachel Mankowitz
Sent: Monday, 9 February 2015, 22:41
To: Rupert Harker

I finished reading the manuscript and it really is a great read, but I have a couple of more ideas. First of all, the intro of the dating website, and therefore Nell, comes out of nowhere. Maybe lead up to it in some way, or, better yet, find Nell in a more organic way through the course of the novel. Because, dropping the hint so hard makes it seem like something important to the plot is going to come from Nell, and, even if that’s true in the next book, it’s not true in this one. Which leads to the bigger problem, um, this book didn’t have an ending. I thought it should have ended with the end of the particular story of the Gorshkovs, but it kept going and going, and then just stopped in the middle of nowhere. Even if you are writing a series and setting things up for the future, you need to end each book in a concrete way.

I hope that helps!

From: Rupert Harker
To: Rachel Mankowitz
Sent: Wednesday, 11 February 2015, 4:59

Regarding your comments about pacing and an ending, have you ever had a conversation along the following lines?

“Have you seen my keys?”

“Yes, dear. They’re in your hand.”

Sometimes something is so obvious once pointed out, all you can do is slap your forehead and say, “duh!”

The book obviously needs a rejig. It looks like I’m going to have to delay publication until next year, so I have plenty of time to knock it into shape, by which time, I hope to have The Werewolf of Wottenham Wood, ready too.

Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate it.

From: Rachel Mankowitz 
To: Rupert Harker
Sent: Wednesday, 11 February 2015, 16:17

I’m glad I could help!


About Dr Rupert Harker

I am the author of the Urban-Smith mysteries. Book 2, The Werewolf of Worttenham Wood is due out in June.
This entry was posted in Laugh out dead, Twogging and bleating, Writing a novel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Pacing, puns and punctuation; the holy trinity.

  1. Pingback: It’s a punderful life. | Paranorensics – where forensics goes bump in the night

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