Evelyn Chartres Author

Art Embodied

There few opportunities to go out and explore during this last trip. Sometimes the opportunity simply eluded me or other priorities were given precedence. To put it mildly, this had been a long and grueling trip and work hours regularly extend beyond sixteen hours. Hence given an opportunity to sleep, I embraced it wholeheartedly.

I did visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I had been there before but remembered little of it, so this time I made sure to bring my camera. I often prescribe to the shotgun approach to photography, as in take a lot of pictures and sort them out later. This has worked well for me in the past, since a random shot of a painting inspired the cover for The Portrait.

The embodiment of art

The shot above was one of the gems found in my archive of pictures from that day. In the corner surrounded by two paintings there was a patron enjoying the exhibits just as I was.  However, her clothes and pose seemed to fit in perfectly with her surroundings.

In a way she seemed to be the embodiment of art. True? False? Who cares! I only hope this shot can inspire others as did for me.

Mobile Manuscripts

The earliest instances of writing were done by hand and any copies were made by scribes so every book was unique. Many such manuscripts included doodles or annotations that either hinted at the scribe’s creativity or provided insights on their inherent boredom.

Portrait of a man in clerical dress being hit on the head with a sword, from a book of treasury receipts.

The printing press increased our opportunity to get published works to the masses. The advent of eBooks further accelerated this phenomenon.

Authors are as varied as the stories they tell. Some still write by hand, channeling the spirit of monks and scribes of old. Others prefer the feel of a typewriter, an aspect often portrayed in movies and novels.

Technology has allowed writers to venture into the digital age. While some authors like George R.R. Martin remains stubbornly entrenched on the technology they adopt, others embrace tools to lend aid. Now it’s common to see people in coffee shops writing away on their laptops, feeding from the raw energy that permeate such places.

Advances in technology are not exclusively confined to software, computers have gotten smaller and more compact. Many of us own phones that have more processing power than was available for NASA during the Apollo program. However, this technology has not been wildly adopted as a convenient way to create content. I mean for more than keeping notes and jotting down ideas, but for writing a whole manuscript from start to finish.

Screenshot of Google Docs and the auto-correct feature

A week ago, I completed my first review of a manuscript, written entirely on my smart phone. To note, I did not use a Bluetooth to make typing easier, and used software readily available on most Android phones.

So Why Did I Do It?

Tools are at my fingertips. Auto-correct features are available on every device, a capability which is invaluable. We can fire up a browser to confirm details, after all Wikipedia is just a bookmark away. Revision history on Google Docs allows is great for collecting statistics on updates and changes over time.

Backup and share live. Basic tools like Google Docs can back-up and share work live. Unless disconnected from the Internet, the manuscript will be available on any device. How often did you have a stroke of genius, but forgot most of it before you got home?

I can take it wherever I go. While the same can be said about pen and paper, many carry their phones where they go. Given a spare moment, pull out your phone and continue adding to a chapter. This is an aspect that I found to be indispensable, especially as a parent who works full-time. After all, finding a moment to sit in front of your laptop can be a daunting task.

My manuscript was 65,643 words over 165 pages when I finished the review which generated 8,384 corrections. Tools inherent to Google Docs allowed me to generate statistics. In turn, this information enables you to gauge your revision cycles and later focus your goals.

So What Did I Learn?

Auto-correct is invaluable. Typing on a virtual keyboard will generate errors. Perhaps your thumb struck a letter instead of the space bar, or the auto-correct interpreted a word differently than anticipated. However, disabling the auto-correct it is not an option, since you’d end up with large swathsnofnmyspelednwords (swaths of misspelled words) that make no sense.

Not portable by default. If you forgot to set your document to be available offline, then you will not be able to update existing chapters until you have an opportunity to connect to the Internet.

Working Offline. A lot of auto-correct features built into Google Docs are unavailable when offline; phones will then revert to their built-in system. Checking on your progress after you reconnect, will show a slew words that were misinterpreted.

Reviewing your manuscript is critical. This process is critical for any manuscript to confirm your work. During this cycle, I came across words that made no sense and needed to decipher their meaning. While this happens with content creation method, errors are compounded by speed and relying on auto-correct.

Overall I found the advantages of using my mobile device to outweighed the disadvantages. While my writing is not as fast on a virtual keyboard, it’s close enough to push through. Additionally, I can use my time while on a bus, while waiting for my child to finish her extra-curricular activities.

Even at locations that do not have reliable Internet, my smartphone provides me with a quick and easy way to continue with my work. While laptops have their own charms, the battery life and size make them impractical for day-to-day usage.

Perhaps a better technology will come along within the next couple of years. I’ll be sure to re-evaluate and might even take the plunge. Who know? For now, I found a tool that works for me!

Blurring the Lines

It’s not everyday that one gets to blur the lines between fiction and reality. Using a high quality version of my cover, I had a 20 x 30 inch canvas print of the Lady made.

So what is a canvas without a frame?  I had a local shop build me a custom frame using two separate borders. I have to admit that rather like the final product. Although I will say that I am likely biased!

Visually Comparing the Grand’s Revisions

A visual comparison between revisions for the Man and the Sea, a chapter for the Grand. This particular video demonstrates how the Spiral Development method can apply to the review process of a novel; namely how chapters are refined over time.

This is a follow to my Comparing the Grand’s Revisions post, which goes into why and how this particular chapter was selected for comparison. This video also demonstrates how the amount of changes gradually recede to leave behind a coherent manuscript and that is something any author wants to see!

Direct comparison between Revision 2 and 14

This video is a composite comparison of 12 chapters in all. While there are 14 versions of the chapters, some had no changes to bring forward so there was nothing gained by showing them. For those curious, the above image below denotes the total changes between Revision 2 and Revision 14.

Comparing the Grand’s Revisions

When I wrote the Grand, I made sure to collect statistics on changes and kept a copy of revisions. This enabled me to measure my progress and gauge how things were moving along. I detailed this process before under the post titled Spiral Development for the Literary World.

There was one element I never explored at the time and that was comparing the earliest revision available against the newest. In the back of my mind, I half-expected it show me a document filled with corrections and would find very little original text remaining. What I found was pretty much exactly as I imagined.

To find the ideal candidate, I looked through the amount of changes made per revision and originally found that the Van Helsing Paradox had the highest number. Not a revelation per sey, considering it is also my largest chapter.

Instead, I compared total revisions made against the amount of words and discovered that the Man and the Sea had highest percentage of corrections over it’s lifetime. Since this chapter is also one of the shortest, it also allowed me to show visually how the bulk of the chapter was altered.

For those curious here is a list of the number of changes based on revision:

  • Revision 2 – 62
  • Revision 3 – 30
  • Revision 4 – 17
  • Revision 5 – 12
  • Revision 6 – 4
  • Revision 7 – 3
  • Revision 8 – 2
  • Revision 9 – 1
  • Revision 10 – 3
  • Revision 11 – 2
  • Revision 12 – 1
  • Revision 13 – 1
  • Revision 14 – 1

Overall I found it humbling and fascinating. It allowed me to see how dramatic 12 revisions could be when compared directly!