A few weeks ago, I was blessed to be able to have lunch with some missionaries who have been working in Papua New Guinea. The country has about 4000 people with about 850 different languages. The little village where these missionaries have been living has about twenty people who speak the language Mum (pronounced Moom). She has been helping to translate the Bible into Mum so that they can learn how to better apply the truths they know part of and really be able to live as Christians.
One problem with translating from Greek/English to Mum is that they don’t have the word holy. It’s not a word easily replaced. Another word that is not in their language is because. Think about that. Can you imagine trying to share the teachings of Paul without using because? She said their language doesn’t need it–they always put their sentences in chronological order. Where we might say something like “I hit him because he called me stupid,” they would say “He called me stupid and I hit him.”
It took me back to the early days of editing my first book. Occasionally, my editor would leave a comment “Put this in order.”
I had written “She drowsily hit her alarm clock the next morning as it buzzed next to her ear.” The alarm had to buzz before she could hit it. It wasn’t in order. Not writing chronologically wasn’t the main problem I had back then, but I remember reading that comment several times before we were through the whole novel. In case you’re curious, I changed the sentence to “She swatted at her alarm clock a few times the next morning before her hand connected enough to stop the buzz next to her ear.”
When things are out of order, it takes the brain an extra moment to figure out what the author meant and pulls them from the story. As I’ve grown in my writing, I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at this. I’ve also had the privilege of passing on some of the knowledge I’ve learned from my own editors by helping friends edit their own work. And I try to mark this in their work as well. So, next time you’re going through, marking edits in something you’ve written, keep an eye open for areas where you might have put something before it actually happened.
Have you ever been reading along and found something like this in a book? What are some other things that might pull you out of a story?
Amy R Anguish, author of An Unexpected Legacy, grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.
Look for her next book, Faith & Hope, out April 16, 2019!