What does a working relationship between a writer and an editor look like? Author and HNE client, Jessie Clever and I have known each other for more than ten years. So in our case, it looks a little snarky.
Welcome to Letters to My Editor. She writes to me one week on her blog. I reply the next on mine. Mayhem just might ensue.
You’re not wrong. I am in no way the boss of you.
Though I will point out that I’ve been very easy on you about using one space between sentences instead of two.¹ I think that shows admirable restraint on my part.
But back to the point at hand. You said it yourself:
“Sometimes it shows what the character is going through.”²
The significant word here is sometimes.
“And then” provides a colloquial tone. Short sentences indicate thought process and emotional state. However, when “and then” is used 65 times in fewer than 50 pages (yes, I counted) the story tends to sound like my five-year-old son recounting his field trip to the zoo.
And then we saw the zoo train and then some animals and then Olivia was talking to me at lunch and that’s why I didn’t eat my carrots . . .
If a cook pours in vast quantities of oregano, enjoying the pot roast is a lot harder regardless of the high quality cut of meat. No matter how solid your plot or how captivating your characters, overusing a written device might have your reader reaching for a different book to cleanse the palate. Your narrative voice is strong; it doesn’t need devices.
Season your writing. Just make sure the whole bottle doesn’t end up in the pot.
P.S. Now, I love e.e. cummings, but are you telling me you’re about to do away with capital letters? I might need to reconsider my prices . . .
Be sure to subscribe to Jessie’s blog at Romancing a Blog to get her next letter!
1. The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2010), 6.7.
2. Jessie Clever, “Letters to My Editor: You’re Not the Boss of Me” Romancing a Blog (blog), June 15, 2015, http://jessieclever.com/letters-to-my-editor-youre-not-the-boss-of-me/.