Fun with Phonics (or poems we almost know the words to)

posted in: Various Musings | 0

*wink* No, we’re not doing a phonics lesson today, but I’m attached to the title of this post and I’m not changing it now!

Recently, I asked readers in my Facebook group if I could get a few eyes on a “super secret” project that I’ll be announcing in the near future. But I’m up against deadline and so I didn’t have enough time to go through my usual routine with the manuscript. Those readers who offered to assist were awesome and gave me some valuable feedback. That said, I got an interesting comment from several of them. It’s about a passage I decided to completely rewrite because of that misunderstanding but something the English teacher in me wanted to address (in case I decide to write something similar in the future). This is the paragraph in question:

Shit. She was still grouchy. Maybe having some lunch, knowing they’d be heading out soon, would soothe her savage breast. But Conor knew the poet that had penned that phrase had never met the likes of Morgan Tredway.

I had several readers tell me I should have written “savage beast.” But here is the actual quote from William Congreve:

Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast.” (emphasis mine)

It is often misquoted (as “soothes the savage beast”) but I can’t knowingly and willingly misquote or misuse a phrase.  It’s not in me. So I tried to figure out a way to work all that info into the story, but it won’t work. Why? Because it’s a romantic comedy and explaining to readers about breast/beast would have ruined the flow. The paragraph shared above was meant to be a section break in the story, clever and funny and a little tense.

I asked hubby for help and the first thing he said was that the phrase should be about music, not food. But when I explained that I was just trying to emphasize that the character Morgan was really angry and Conor was hoping that a bite to eat would soothe her temper, he got where I was coming from.

But that still left the problem of breast versus beast.

Ultimately, I decided to simply rewrite that paragraph entirely. Maybe it’s not as clever now but at least readers won’t think I’ve accidentally committed a typo (or that I’m stupid):

Shit. She was still grouchy. Maybe having some lunch, knowing they’d be heading out soon, would help her chill out. If food were the way to a man’s stomach, perhaps it would be the way to a woman’s zen. There was only one way to find out.

Anyway, I’ll be announcing this super secret project next week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, let me know—does this rewrite work? What do you think?

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