Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What did we do without the Internet?

Research can be tedious, and research can be fun.

I'm getting down to the nitty gritty with my editing phase and one of the things I'm trying to do involves shorthand. Anybody remember shorthand? I'm using it sort of like a secret code, or not so secret code, as the case may be. Yes, a million years ago, my mother made me learn shorthand. Yes, I hated it. No, I never used it. So going back at it now, I can step into my character's shoes and say "huh?"

When I wrote my first book, I spent HOURS in the public library, researching and studying and learning about things to make sure my story was authentic. I learned Italian! That was in the late 90's, so we're only talking 20 years ago. Now, much of the information I needed then is readily available on the Internet, in more forms than I could ever want. Instead of reading travel brochures to the Isle of Capri, I could watch a YouTube video and see it. Don't get me wrong, I still visit the library. Still love the library. There is much to be found there, including the fountains of information we refer to as librarians.

Shorthand has gone the way of other lost arts. It still exists, although high school students are no longer able to take classes. Instead of typing classes, now there are keyboarding classes, and those begin in grade school. So where does one go to translate shorthand into longhand and vice versa? YouTube videos are available to people who want to learn this lost art, and there are still textbooks one can use for reference. Lucky for me, I have friends who use it. So I tapped one of them to write me something to see how well I did. High school is a lot of years in the rearview mirror, but I have to say I'm proud that I was able to translate a lot of what she wrote for me! Now, as I near the end of my editing phase, I want to add authenticity to my character, who is struggling to translate what her mother wrote. I have the translation, but I need to see where she would stumble in the conversion of shorthand to longhand.

The Internet has a translator that goes from longhand to shorthand! Is this an amazing world or what? So my project this week is to type in the longhand version and then go back and try to read it in shorthand, annotating what I get wrong along the way (the way my character would). You might think this is cheating. I know what its supposed to say, after all. But with close to 70,000 words in the manuscript, there's no way I will remember the passage verbatim. Seems like a reasonable test of my skills.

Still tweaking, still filling in missing pieces, but I'm on schedule with MAN IN THE MIRROR. I can't wait for you to read it!

1 comment:

  1. I never took shorthand. My mom did insist on typing, though. (On manual typerwriters with no white out ... take the paper out, erase, then try to line everything up again.) I did have to use bits of German in one of my books, but I was lucky to have family who could help.