Susan awoke to the call of the birds outside her window. Swinging her feet to the floor, she went to the window. Throwing the curtains aside, she drew in a big breath of fresh morning air.
The day before, she had been at the Farmer's Market, where she had been looking for tomatoes. She had been squeezing the tomatoes. She had been idly looking around, for the concourse of people had been fascinating. She had been struck by John, by how tall and handsome he had been, and she had been thinking about him ever since...
Okay, the above is what we might call 'standard operating procedure' for a book published by a major company, in English, in the western marketplace.
In that sense, many would say that's how it should be done. (Or how it should have been done.)
Yet it irks me in some ways. In a modern motorcar, there are no nuts, bolts and fasteners visible on the exterior of a car. The only exceptions are on the bottom of the car, and maybe some wheel nuts, or on the wiper blade attachments.
So let's look at an 'experimental' way of writing the same thing.
Susan awoke to the call of the birds outside her window. Swinging her legs to the side, she went to the window. Throwing the curtains aside, she drew in a big breath of fresh morning air.
The day before, she had been at the Farmer's Market, looking for tomatoes. She was squeezing the tomatoes and idly looking around, for the concourse of people was always fascinating. She was struck by John, by how tall and handsome he was, and she had thought about him ever since...
Clearly, 'had been' is a useful tool, it sets the action on a previous day. Yet the repetitive use of it is kind of like letting nuts and bolts stick out of the side of a modern car. It is simply unnecessary, and represents a kind of 'author intrusion.' It borders on carelessness. I say that because it bugs me when I see it.
As an award-winning author said recently, 'the story has to shine through the writing.' And if the writing gets in the way, for whatever reason, then clearly the author has failed.
In my opinion, the average reader, (although maybe not a professional editor with a big publisher and thirty years of experience, and habit-forming experience at that,) will be able to follow the story and follow the meanings and nuances, assuming the writer has any craft at all.
To write for editors is to write for a very small audience, and they don't have to pay for books anyway. They see more than enough of them as it is.