#SecondThoughts: 6 Tips for writing Acknowledgements

While realising it’s getting way ahead of ourselves, I know there are a number of people to whom enormous gratitude is due, from both David & myself, for their support & encouragement of our co-authored work November Deadline. I’m not going to attempt to list them now, for I dread missing anyone unintentionally, and I not only hope they already know how we feel, but that we’ll get the chance to thank them properly in future.

This train of thought started when I read an article about acknowledgements – for the real question as far as I’m concerned is – does anyone read the acknowledgements?

I know I don’t, for I’ve always considered it a bit like that boring bit in an Oscar acceptance speech – you know, when winners get to name check all those people who don’t usually get the chance of being acknowledged – by name – to a TV audience of over 25 million.

Most viewers mentally switch off during the list of names being recited by rote, and I presume any reader who actually does check the acknowledgements, does so while allowing their eyes to skip over the names, or while keeping a look out for the unusual or the famous. Sometimes an author will even dedicate a book to someone who’d normally be included in the acknowledgement, although – in my experience – dedications tend to be family members or loved ones, sometimes even a secret one.  Again, unless a dedication named you, can you remember the dedication in any book you’ve read?

But back to that article I read recently entitled “Pretentious bores make me want to burn every book: why can’t a single novel end without acknowledgements to every ‘darling’ from George and Amal to the Middletons?” in which Giles Coren expresses his frustration, nay loathing, of this particular practice. So strong is his feeling, he believes this is what’s wrong with the modern novel. Certain of his barbs made me literally laugh out loud, including this one about authors rushing “to kiss the completely irrelevant arse of everyone they’d ever met …” or name-checking famous people such as Zadie S and Phoebe W-B (you know who you are) for just being there on the end of a phoneline from NY or SoCal when I couldn’t find the mot juste” – and yes, I did embolden than particular bit for making me positively hoot and snort. The article is well worth a read, even though it’s behind a paywall on The Times (you can register your email address for a free peak every now & again) for it didn’t just make me laugh, it made me stop & think.

You see … I’m certain the author genuinely feels gratitude and means the heartfelt thanks they are expressing, and hopefully, those on the receiving end get – at the very least – a degree of warm feeling.

So, what can we learn from this? Well, what I came away with was this – do write an  acknowledgement, but …

  1. Use it to make your professional thanks – editors, beta readers, publishers & the like.
  2. Don’t use it to brag about the famous people you know, unless you want to to be on the end of eye-rolling, or to incite Giles-Coren-like rage.
  3. Don’t bore the pants off readers by naming Every.Single.Person you know (it’s not a radio show shout out).
  4. Don’t name a vast amount of people, or it will turn in to one of those Oscar-like mind-numbing recitations, instead limit it to those who made a significant contribution (and by that I don’t mean financial).
  5. If you’re going to thank your loved ones and/or family members for putting up with you, make it brief.
  6. Make sure you give thanks to everyone who is due it – do it in private, and do it properly.

As I see it, we should all bear in mind this final bon mot from the pen of Giles Coren: “when I pick up a novel in a bookshop, I shall no longer flick through the pages to see if it sounds like my sort of thing. I shall turn straight to the acknowledgements and if you sound like a dick, it’s going back on the shelf.”

 

What’s your view on acknowledgements? Do you have any tips you’d add to my list?


© Debra Carey, 2020

#FlashFiction: The Thesaurus Challenge

A quick reminder that this week’s challenge was to select five words from a list of  synonyms for walk. For the full list, see last week’s prompt post here.

My five words: lumber / stride / shamble / plod / race

Rag ‘n Bone

Peering through the late afternoon gloom, Mick was a worried man. Sheltering against the rain, his shoulders hunched from the cold, Mick lit yet another smoke. He was in serious trouble with Doris, for there was no doubting he’d let her down. For years now, Doris had taken in washing from the big house. She’d saved up hard and even got herself a machine, but it had sprung a leak a few weeks back. He’d promised to fix it, even getting so far as to ask Stan to look out for a suitable bit of pipe for him. He’d got a message Stan has found something, but had been diverted by the pigeon racing season, spending evenings down the pub with the other lads, and forgotten all about it.

Finally, what felt like hours later, he heard the unmistakable rumble of wagon wheels on cobble stones. First came Harry, calling out to announce their arrival, striding from door-to-door with the all vigour of youth, picking up anything on offer to show his Dad. Stan followed, shambling alongside his beloved cart horses. They plodded along at their usual pace – slow and steady, not stopping unless Stan called out “Whoa!” to them.

Racing across the cobbles Mick blurted out to Stan “Got that pipe still?”
Stan gave him an old fashioned look “I bin holding on to it for you for 6 week now …”
“Don’t mess about Stan, have you still got it?”
“I has lad, but only for I knows it be for your Doris. She done paid me for it too.”

Spitting to show his disgust, Stan gave Mick the pipe, then turned to Old Mrs Roberts who, as usual, wanted to barter over her old rubbish, trying to get an extra penny or two out of him.

Embarrassed by old Stan putting him firmly in his place, Mick hurried indoors. Doris’d had to turn to the neighbours to help her out this week, so the money she made would be shared out among them. He’d spoken to her sharply when she’d told him so this morning, telling her off for making a fool of him in front of their neighbours. Unusually for her, she’d snapped right back at him: “I give you plenty of rope Mick. Even though I work hard for that money, I don’t begrudge you your drinking, nor your time with the lads. But you’ve made a right fool of me to my friends. I stand up for you whenever folks call you lazy, and now I’ve had to go cap in hand to them all ‘cos you’ve proven them right and me wrong. My savings jar will be feeding us, ‘n buying the kids new shoes. You’ll be going without your nights out till it’s filled up again my lad.”

Pulling out his tools, Mick turned in time to catch sight of Stan and Harry’s rag ‘n bone cart lumbering on in the gloom, their round nearly at an end for another week.

© Debra Carey, 2020


I got slightly carried away with this one!

In addition to meandered / plodded / promenaded / sauntered / shuffled /stumped / trudged, there are three Easter eggs for you to look out for.  Let me know if you spot them!

Dark doings on a summer’s day

Sarah and James meandered through the streets of town, busy with milling tourists now summer was here.  Eventually they found themselves down at the docks.  Their friend Wendel was perched on a bollard, taking in all the sights and sounds.  A docker plodded past on his way to help unload the ferry.  In truth, this dock was not on the scale of the grand passenger docks of Southampton, nor yet the busy cargo port of Felixstow.  But for all that, Greycliffe had a rich heritage, once having been the haunt of smugglers.  Today, there was the daily ferry, a few fisherman, and a small marina for private boats.  The three children promenaded around the harbour with all the dignity of aldermen, skirting around holiday makers waiting to travel to the island just off the coast.

“Look over there!” Wendel pointed.  In the bay, moored out of the way of shipping but in deeper water was a schooner.  Smaller than the ferry, but much larger than the pleasure craft they were used to seeing, it sat at rest, dark and brooding.  They watched as three men climbed down a rope ladder to a dinghy that had been brought alongside by a fourth.  Once they were all aboard, the dinghy set out for the sea wall.

The three children talked and watched and watched and talked.  Sarah and James were enthusing about the summer reading challenge.  Wendel was not such a big reader as the twins, but this time the challenge was themed around his specialist subject: pirates, and by extension smugglers, particularly those that had haunted Greycliffe in the 17th Century.

As they talked, the scuffed dinghy from the schooner drew closer, finally tying up at some steps leading up to the quay.   At right angles to the steps, the children had a clear view of the occupants as they disembarked and climbed up to the wharf.  Sarah let out a little squeak and Wendel drew in his breath sharply.

“They’re a villainous looking crew!” James said gleefully.

Villainous, but also a tad theatrical.  One was wearing a tricorn hat.  Another, with long hair, greasy and straggling, had an eye-patch.  The last man to come up the steps had a wooden leg.

A sudden movement caught their attention and they saw another disreputable fellow, who had been lurking in the shelter of a stack of lumber, waiting to be loaded onto the ferry.  He was beckoning to the little knot of sailors – pirates? – who sauntered over to join him.  They put their heads together, conspiratorially.

The children looked at each.  What was going on there, then?

The huddle broke up.  Two of the pirates – surely pirates! – shuffled back to the steps and back down to the waiting dinghy and cast off.  They sculled away from the quay and then lay to their oars.  The peg-legged man stumped off down the quay; the remaining sailor trudged off in the direction of town with the man they had met.  The game was afoot…

©David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: Y

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


We’re on the home stretch now with today’s letter – Y

Y2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

For today, I’d like to add:

How Would You Know – a little bit of a cheat this one, but the letter Y does appear in the Blog’s name 🙂  This year’s Challenge sees the return to blogging of Frewin55 after 7 years. Like my first Challenge, he leapt straight in on 1st April without knowing about the potential for themes. Nevertheless, a couple of posts in, a theme emerged organically – that of both personal and societal responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the subjects covered are the more heavyweight examinations of Blogging and why we do it, and whether Death gives meaning to life, as well as the lighter-weight topics of the role Music is playing in our Covid-19 experience, and Sugar – a word association game with a musical theme. In all honesty, it doesn’t feel right for us to complete 2020’s Challenge without visiting a blog taking a closer look at Covid-19, and this one is a fine example.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T
The letter U
The letter V
The letter W
The letter X

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter Y which we should read.


© Debra Carey, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: X

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


We’re on the home stretch now with today’s letter – X

X2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

I clearly wasn’t thinking very clearly when we set up the schedule, or I was being chivalrous…lets go with chivalrous!  X is one of the most difficult letters in the alphabet to work with.  Just 0.15% of words in the English language begin with X, although it only scores 8 in Scrabble.  It’s no surprise that A2Zers have a tendency to fudge this post with either a made up word or a misspelling – we’re all xhausted by this point.  And I am no exception!  Having carefully scoured the master-list, I could find nothing that leapt out at me.  Having come up with all sorts of clever wheezes to play with X, I still could not find anything.  However, there is some kind of serendipity, because on my Xth attempt, I found some buried treasure: X marks the spot.

So, today, I proudly (and slightly tenuously) present Tyrean Martinson.  Tyrean is presenting a novella; she is one of a handful of people who are making the brave attempt to present a continuous story, with new episodes everyday.  The link I’ve provided will take you all the way back to A, so that you can begin at the beginning.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T
The letter U
The letter V
The letter W

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter X which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: W

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


We’re on the home stretch now with today’s letter – W

W2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

For today, I’d like to add:

Writing Wings from author Roland Clarke. It was a tough decision to hold back featuring Roland to this late in the Challenge, but it did allow me to tick off one of the trickier letters of the alphabet, as I was confident that he would make it through to the end. Not only is Roland a veteran of many an A-Z Challenge, but he’s also shared his well thought-out posting plan. This year Roland is posting highlights from previous years, not only as it allows him to participate with the requirement of limited new writing, but provides the added benefit of bringing his previous work to the attention of new Challenge participants and readers. Last year, I started reading his tale of Welsh detective Sparkle Anwy (which has subsequently evolved into a novella Azure Spark), but life got in the way of my being able to complete this (and many other wonderful tales), so I’m delighted to have been given another chance to pick up the thread once again. Despite the tremendous calls on his time and energy, Roland is also a terrifically supportive member of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Do drop in & have a read.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T
The letter U
The letter V

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter W which we should read.


© Debra Carey, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: V

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


On we go with today’s letter – V

V2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

For today, I’d like to add:

Loose End of the Red Thread is the blog of author Varadharajan Ramesh who we met when he first took part in the Challenge in 2018, when he showcased his fabulous ‘Tales with a Twist’ series of flash fiction. The tales were a great read, being a mixture of funny and (to use his own words) downright evil. Despite being under tremendous pressure with our own Challenge, Varad’s was one of a small number of blogs I rushed to check daily. This year his focus is on a new genre – Horror. But … it’s horror with a twist, for Varad’s tales will feature Indian mythology and folklore, opening our eyes to a culture of monsters and evil spirits most of us have never come across before. Enjoy!

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T
The letter U

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter V which we should read.


© Debra Carey, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: U

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


 

On we go with today’s letter – U

U2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

And now, as they say, for something completely different.  I’ve used role-playing games, or rather the mechanics behind them as the starting point for a couple of posts here before (one on characters and one on teams), so it was a delight to stumble upon Uniquely Maladjusted But Fun.  Jaime is building a month’s worth of prompts around table-top RPGs, which can also be used as writing prompts.  Entries include items, locations, NPCs, quests: none are quite like anything I’ve seen before.  Uniquely maladjusted, in fact, but fun.  Mission accomplished, Jaime!

Another blog that intrigued me, providing food for writing thought although not about writing specifically, is Ujjwal Mishwa’s.  Ujjwal is looking at the meaning of dreams for her challenge.  In terms of trying to act on the interpretation of a dream, I’d place this in the same category as astrology: the brain is far too complex to assume that everything that crops up in a dream can be ascribed to a particular meaning.  But the posts are full of fascinating tidbits of information which I’m looking forward to following up on.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter U which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020