Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life Lessons

Hi folks, I have been swamped, working on a nonfiction book called Green Souls (coming out Fall 2011). Thought I'd share a little teaser from the first chapter, see what you all think:

Michel Desjardins' first major life lesson was about excess. "My father has never liked excess," he tells me. "To be excessive is to waste, and therefore to abuse the resource."

The way to avoid that abuse, according to Dr. Desjardins the senior, is to take care of the resource yourself. Despite being a busy professional, the good doctor has always taken the time to tend his own garden and cut his own wood.

"That had a tremendous influence on me," Michel says, "though it took me a long time to appreciate the lesson."

His second major life lesson, passed down from his grandparents, was this: get ahead, find a better life than this tough one we toiling farmers have. Be a skilled professional, not an unskilled labourer. Make your fortune in the knowledge industries and take the world, not just the good earth, into your hands. Buy a bigger house and a better car.

These were the contradictory lessons that were eventually passed on to young Michel, so it is no surprise that his midlife crisis, brought on by the political defeat of his employer, left him soul-searching. Even though his father was a simple man, Michel Desjardins was raised thinking he had to do better, to carry forward the legacy of an optometrist. To get the letters of a legal professional, and to shape his city’s and then his province’s destiny in the new economy. He hadn’t taken the time to look back.

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Can't get the teacher out of my system.

Now that you are an established fiction writer, maybe a comment here from Nonfiction 101 from an old prof.

As former magazine writer, I think I would pare down your lead quite a bit.

For openers, the word excess used to er, excess.

How about:

"Waste not, want not" was Michael Desjardin's first life lesson from his father. "My father never liked excess--the waste and abuse of the resource itself."

In nonfiction, you gotta pare down, and then make it move...Otherwise it's just english composition.
...And I'd say you often use too much of the same noun, sometimmes three instances in one paragraph.

It's gotta be more like writin', pared down and honed.

Ah, what do I know? You're a published fiction writer, and me an old news hack--and congrats on that.
But like my old prof from the past, I'm always editing somebody else's copy when I see it.
Just like Charlie Chaplin, in Modern Times, I suppose.

On the positive side, my sitemeter tells me many people, some of them anonymous, are taking long looks at whatever I may have said about your precocious novel, Drive-by Saviours...It was all to the good.
No problem, Ivan. It is still pretty rough so I appreciate the editing.
And thanks also for letting me know about your DBS sitemetre, that's good to know. Hopefully sales will ensue ;-)
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