Lois Lowry's Blog

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chuckle, shrug, sigh

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 06 December 2012 in Uncategorized

When I am working on a manuscript, I usually stop now and then and read sections aloud to myself. I try to do it when no one else is around because it likely sounds strange (and I have memories of my sister, under other cicumstances, saying, "Mom, Lois is doing that weird thing again..")

I do it (and recommend to young writers that they also do it) because it gives a feeling for pacing and flow, and it certainly makes the writer aware of the verisimilitude (or lack thereof) of the dialogue.

But!  Big BUT....!   I don't ever read the entire manuscript aloud, after it is done.

And now I am regretting that.

Recently I received a copy of the audio book of SON. Usually I listen to the first few minutes of each audio book, just to hear the sound of the reader's voice (one of my favorites: Arte Johnson reading THE WILLOUGHBYS. He's great).  I don't need to listen to the entire book because, of course, I alteady know the book well.

I was in the car when I began to listen to the recorded version of son. The reader, actress Bernadette Dunne, is terrific. No complaints there!

But I continued listening, more than I ordinarily do, because the book has three parts, set in three different places, and I wanted to hear how she changed the voice for each, and for new characters ...  she does it very effectively.  But here is what I heard, which made me cringe:

I OVER-USE: shrug, sigh, and chuckle. I mean way over-use.

I think I would have noticed that if I had read the entire book aloud, as Bernadette Dunne was hired to do.

I think it's true that people do use those gestures and inflections to help convey the meaning of what they are saying. But I so wish I had not felt compelled to describe them doing it. Again and Again and Again!

Next book? I will certainly be aware of it, (she sighed, and chuckled). At least I hope I will, (she shrugged.)

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Comments

Jane Hinrichs
Jane Hinrichs
I'm a wife, a mom, a writer and an artist. Currently I'm working on a young YA book called Giant Sophie. I hav...
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Jane Hinrichs Thursday, 06 December 2012

Lois, Maybe it is noticeable in the Aloud version, but when I was read Son, I didn't notice it a bit. It sure wasn't distracting in the least....I know that quartet is over, but have you thought about a fifth book by chance? (Like Claire could go back and bring the shepherd to the village. She and Gabe and he could be a family.......)

Dawn Farmer
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Dawn Farmer Friday, 07 December 2012

I must agree with Jane on both points. I read SON and didn't notice the overuse at all. Additionally, I would love a 5th book, but I've read your reasons why SON is the end. I guess it's just for selfish reasons that I want it to continue. It's just hard to accept that it's really over. THE GIVER has been a part of my life (and my son's) for such a long time.

Clay
Clay
Clay teaches 7th grade Language Arts and enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and sports. He belives teaching mid...
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Clay Sunday, 09 December 2012

Ms. Lowry - thank you for your inspiration. I love your books and and especially your honesty. I will be passing back and my student's narrative papers next week and I can't think of more approriate message to share - the overuse of words. Thanks for being honest and open. What's a writer to do - chuckle, shrug, and sigh?:D

Leslie Redmond
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Leslie Redmond Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hi Mrs. Lowry,
We are an elementary school book club and we just finished your book, Gossamer. We would love to see the play version. We are glad you left the mean father in the play version because it was part of the story, just like you have to leave in "sad parts of a dream." Do you know if it is going to be performed in CT any time soon? We all came up with our own Dream Giver names and brought in items that Dream Givers and Sinisteeds might have touched in our rooms to give us dreams and kept dream journals while reading the novel. Sincerely, Craziest, Scroll Reader, Most Interested, Nimblest, Adventurous, Free Spirit, and Most Wise.

Lois Lowry
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Lois Lowry Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I'm afraid I don't know of any performances coming up in Connecticut. I wish you could see the play, though! Different theaters have done such imaginative things with costumes and sets!

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