Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Where the Light Falls"

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Katherine Keenum graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in English and earned a Ph.D. in medieval studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in the publicity department of the New Orleans Public Schools, taught in the expository writing program at Yale University, and served as the executive editor of the book publishing program of the Council on East Asian Studies at Harvard University.

Keenum applied the Page 69 Test to Where the Light Falls, her first published work of fiction, and reported the following:
I laughed out loud when I opened Where the Light Falls after receiving the invitation to take the Page 69 Test. Right smack-dab in the middle of the page was a chapter break with lots of white space above and below it.
The next thing they knew, they had been disgorged into Paris.


Getting Started

For their first week, Jeanette and Effie had reservations at the Pavillon des Dames, a hotel on the Left Bank recommended by Miss Whitmore. As soon as their porter found their four-wheeled fiacre, Effie handed him his tip and read off their address to the driver: Her accent was bad, but her delivery had the ring of authority. In dealing with city cab drivers, she was back in her element.
Can’t we choose something more representative? I thought. Yet the more I looked, the more I realized that applying the Page 69 Test here points to two valuable lessons. First, although the tactile sensation of turning a new page may help emphasize the change from one chapter to the next in a printed book, it cannot do so if the page design calls for continuous flow nor can it ever do so in an e-book. For writers today, therefore, it is more important than ever to make sure narrative rhythm, continuity, and contrast between chapters are controlled by the prose. Second, in this case, the end of Chapter Six and beginning of Chapter Seven were places where I had condensed in response to an editorial call for shortening the overall manuscript. Out went enlivening dialogue and incident that contributed to atmosphere more than the plot. Lesson learned: In my current work-in-progress, I am resolved that by the time an editor sees the manuscript, it will contain no extended passages that anyone would think for a moment could come out!
Learn more about the book and author at Katherine Keenum's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Katherine Keenum and Palmer.

--Marshal Zeringue