Saturday, July 05, 2014

Proofreader of the Dead

This blog post was going to be all about how I've finished the first draft of "Version Control" in which I've moved on from the "Fucking hell - how many words? I was aiming for eighty thousand" stage to the "benevolent time traveller" one in which I'm revisiting stuff and foreshadowing stuff I should have done properly first time round - as well as removing some particularly clunky dialogue and tricks and techniques that make parts of it read like a pompous comic from the mid eighties.

But then something came along earlier today - something wonderful. (Our definitions of "wonderful" may vary, just to set your expectations).

I was in our local library this morning for some peace and quiet doing some editing and writing some new stuff as well when I popped outside to grab something to eat and a quick drink.  I popped into the British Heart Foundation (next door to Greggs) first to have a look through the books and films and the following book caught my eye,



I'd seen it before in our local Waterstones and for the princely sum of two quid it seemed like a bargain.  However, upon skimming through it on the way home I noticed that a great chunk (the first bit) of it had annotations.  Now, whether these annotations are from the frenzied sharpie of a frustrated proof-reader, a retired English teacher who simply can't let the job go or from a dangerous psychotic I have no idea.  But I've photographed and printed them all out below for your dubious pleasures.

To make this whole process slightly less formal, I'm going to imagine our fictional annotator is a retired headmaster called Colin Dunstable. He wouldn't ordinarily consider reading novelised versions of horror movies from the eighties but he didn't have the right glasses on in the charity shop and thought it was something about the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which he saw a documentary about on the Discovery channel.

Take it away, Colin Dunstable...

Well done, George and Susanna Sparrow.  We're off to a flying start.

It's all looking very promising.  That IS a good way of introducing a characters life, Colin Dunstable.

Oh, and it was going so well.  Susanna and George are switching bloody viewpoints now,
and it's confusing Colin. He doesn't like using exclamation marks
because the determination and symmetry of them
upsets him.  Now look what you've made him go and do.

"Bother" said Colin Dunstable. "If you can't be bothered doing it right,
 I'll correct it for you. Nice character insight though."


The first appearance of "AVOID!".  Colin is very insistent on this.


NPC is a non plot character - have you got that?  Colin isn't going to use the acronym again but he'd like to make that clear.


HORRIBLY passive.

GREAT TENSION!


Is Fran a generous person?  I do hope we find out later on in the novelisation.

PUNCT ERROR


SHOW NOT TELL, GODDAMNIT!


It's all going right to pot.  Colins not happy.  He's had to take one of his blood pressure tablets.  The blue ones.



A brief glimpse of hope.  An excellent character arc. At last.  Or it could be that Colin
is just a mini bit racist.

GREAT INNER TURMOIL, BATMAN!

You can fuck off with your jargon or colloquialisms on Colins watch, sunshine.  It's radio or nowt.



I'm feeling sympathetic already.


AVOID!





Don't try to articulate  affricate consonants on Colins watch without
using the word sibilant, sunshine.



I think we're all in agreement there, Colin.




I agree, Col.

You tell 'em, Col.  "Horses".  The fucking idiots.





Bloody hell!  You're not even using jargon now!



You fucking tell 'em, Col.


Remember what I said earlier about jargon?  Colin is on to your little game, fucker.










And that is sadly it.  With that capitalised "TERRIBLE" on page 82 out of a total 302, Colin could take no more.  Either he quit in disgust or the book was no longer blotting out the voices in his head and went out to kill again.

Thanks for the entertainment, Colin.  I hope you one day find a book that you like so much you don't feel the need to annotate it.