For the past several weeks, I have been editing my mystery novel, Island Times Three (A Raymond Gray Mystery), using an online editing program. While it has done a good job of pointing out poor sentence structure, questionable grammar and repetitive words, in the end I will send the manuscript to a professional editor and proofreader.
Island Times Three takes place on Sanibel Island in 1952, and I have spent quite a bit of time over three years conducting research. I try to incorporate cultural references and history (hopefully without the story becoming a parody). However, there are times when I want to include a particular reference, and it turns out to be a lousy idea.
When I edit I also tend to embellish or change some details, and an example of this is when Raymond searches Henry’s cabin. Just before he leaves, he finds a burlap package:
Raymond turned to leave when he noticed a swath of burlap stuffed under a small, wooden cupboard on the floor. The bundle appeared to be the same one he had examined in Henry’s auto, so he pulled it out and untied the knot in the fabric. Raymond set aside a dictionary, the same folded copy of the Fort Meyers newspaper and the metal scissors. Only the dictionary was new—but why did the blackmailers add it now? He shuffled through the sheets of paper and frowned when he came to the last one that read:
I WANT 1,000 DOLLARS. WAIT FOR MORE ORDERS
He sniffed the paper—the randomly cut letters from the newspaper were again attached with mint toothpaste—and he was at once surprised and relieved that the blackmailers included a demand.
In an earlier version, Henry kept a dictionary on his cupboard shelf along with a few other books. I revamped this and placed the dictionary in the bundle. In my quest for authenticity, I decided to research dictionaries of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, and this appeared in my search:
They are authentic, all right!
I was going to include this dictionary in the story, since it was published in the early months of 1952. But after a bit of research, I discovered a very important reason for not doing so: There are two volumes, and each were kind of big and, therefore, heavy.
Sadly, I could not use The Picture Dictionary in my story (and used a “generic” label instead), but its existence intrigued me. I searched Ebay.com for the set, but I could only find one volume for $45. I finally found both volumes for much less, and I am happy to say they arrived a few days ago. The box was heavy, and I told my husband it probably weighed 20 lbs. I carefully unpacked them and placed each one on the scale:
As you can see, even the combined weight would not be 20 pounds, but I suppose the box and shipping materials could add a pound or two!
I needed a break from editing Island Times Three (I send it to the editor at the end of the month), and browsing through and writing about The Picture Dictionary was a wonderful diversion. These hefty volumes are a cracking find and make a wonderful addition to my library!
Next up: Part II