Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Galileo, Pavlova and Generic Nouns

Rob didn't mention his publisher, honest.
'Mmm! Delicious Pavlova, Annie.' Rob fluffed out a cloud of meringue powder with the capital 'P'.

Chris, Clive, Linda and Tony were too well brought up to speak with their mouths full and allowed the unctiousness of the cream to engulf the fruit and meld with the sugar creating a mellifluous juxtaposition of flavours. They emitted a choral, 'Mmm!' of agreement.

So started the second meeting in July. Only when the serious business of making inroads into Annie's confection had finished did we pass on to news:

•    Clive has been too knackered to write more than the two pieces he put before the meeting.

•    Rob gave advance information on 'Bewdley Book Week' in October.

•    Chris's talks about Why Don't You Fly continue and he sells circa 10 books at every event.

•    Linda is on track to present another 10,000 words to her Gold Dust mentor.

•    Tony gave out the deadlines for the '3 into 1'  and 'Falling Asleep' short story competitions.

•    Annie is hoping to enter the Myslexia children's book competition.

Clive read two short stories he has written as possible competition entries. The shorter of them described an imagined visit of Galileo to a Cardinal and, in an understated way, dealt with the likely effect this would have on the Church. The second was about a boy's friendship with a damaged First World War War veteran.

Except for the minor corrections – missing or redundant hyphens appeared regularly – Clive's writing emerged largely unscathed. We all agreed that he writes excellent prose with interesting flourishes that add colour.

Our critiques focused more on the authenticity of the pieces with some feeling that the Cardinal was too gentle and his reaction too accepting. Others liked the characterisation and the philosophical resignation of his response.

In the longer story it was the parents' reaction to the boy spending his time with the 'Wild Man of the Woods' that prompted discussion. Were they being naive or were they more accepting times? As far as this piece was concerned, all agreed that it is unnecessary to label the first section of a short story, the 'prologue'.

After Clive's spirited response to some of the suggestions and a reminder from Tony that all critiques offered are merely opinions to be accepted or rejected by the writer, the discussion moved on to the use of upper case initial letters a generic noun is used instead of names. We all agreed that we knew the rule as far as parents are concerned: eg  My mum said, 'Sit down, Dad'.  But what when the usage is less commonly seen? The clearest direction I could find is that a generic noun used instead of a name is always capitalised. 'Are you all right, Son?' 'Bless you, Child.' Sister Ignatius pointed at the line of sisters and, singling out me with a glare, said, 'Come here, Sister.'

And Rob never mentioned his publisher, not even once. Honest.

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