My novel, A Remarkable Kindness.
Along with that, I got an email from the William Morrow editor at HarperCollins, Rachel Kahan, with notes for me on how to revise the novel.
Here’s an embarrassing fact. Well, why not get it out in the open?
Rachel told me: The word “said” appears 1566 times in a 385 pp manuscript, which is far too many.
So, writers, here’s what Rachel says: “In a lot of cases, you don’t need “said” at all—it’s enough to show what the characters are doing or how they’re saying something. If the dialogue and action are clean and in context, you shouldn’t need to say “he said” all that often because it’s understood who is speaking and it’s not necessary to draw attention to the fact that they’re speaking. There are also plenty of instances where you can substitute a different verb for “said” that will give context and color to the way characters are behaving or speaking; those improve the scene and cut down on the repetition of “said.”
She is totally right. Going through the book, I see that I am down to 836 “said’s” and I’m still deleting. Yikes!
Her viewpoint goes against Stephen King who, in his fabulotastic book, On Writing, said, (and I’m paraphrasing), do not say, exclaimed or shouted or chuckled but said. Go figure.
Here’s a totally wonderfully utterly terrific fact. Rachel also wrote, “I so enjoyed re-reading this and found it even more affecting the second time around—I never fail to tear up at the end, and I don’t tear up too often when I read! It’s that good!”
So, folks, get ready for A REMARKABLE KINDNESS, due out in July 2015!
What do you all think of the title? It went from THE DEAD CAN NEVER THANK YOU to THE WOMEN’S BURIAL CIRCLE to A REMARKABLE KINDNESS. The novel is about the intertwined lives of four American friends who are members of a traditional Jewish society and prepare dead women for burial in a small beach village in Israel.
Final fact: Writing feels like walking down a long long road. But I kept walking and walking and working and writing and I didn’t give up. Refused to give up. So, if you’re writing something or creating something or dreaming of something, keep doing it. Do not give in to those voices that tell you what you’re writing is silly or bad. Just keep on. I told myself, if you give up, you will never forgive yourself.
IF YOU GIVE UP, YOU WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOURSELF.