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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Dedications

   
Author Topic: Dedications
tesknota
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We talk a lot about openings and hooks and plot and voice, but there's something that delights me before a novel or story even begins: the dedication. I love it when I open a book to its first pages and read a dedication that says more than just "For _____".
I love a dedication that reveals a part of the author's heart.

One dedication that significantly impacted me was the one Steinbeck wrote in "East of Eden":

Dear Pat,

You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?”
I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”
“What for?”
“To put things in.”
“What kind of things?”
“Whatever you have,” you said.
Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts- the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.
And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.
And still the box is not full.

John
__________

What about all of you? Thoughts?

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extrinsic
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Frontmatter, and a Dedication page is frontmatter (book designers compound the words front and matter), contains information of a prefatory nature that as a best practice influences readers for the action to come in the main text. Oftentimes, a dedication is a memorium for a recently departed influence or whomever a writer wishes to recognize most strongly: family member, spouse, editor, close acquaintance; inspirational person, place, organization, etc.

I read dedications and gauge whether they excite empathy or curiosity (tension), an emotional response, or are unimaginative, flat, and lifeless and irrelevant to the book. In my estimation, they run anout fifty/fifty inspired and inspiring and influential or put in on the fly because of an assumption a book must have some kind of dedication. I read dedications before and after reading an entire work.

A dedication I prefaced to a story collection:

 —— For Garland

   You denied on your deathbed
  your Native Nation ancestors.
    You were true
  to yourself to the end.


[ March 09, 2013, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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EVOC
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I like dedications too. The one you mention is good. But I also like simple ones. My first book, Dissolution of Peace is dedicated to my three boys. I think my next one will be dedicated to my Aunt who loved Science Fiction, but passed away before I finished any of my books.

But even better (IMO) is the Acknowledgements section. I like to know the people behind the author.

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Pyre Dynasty
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I loved the "For Beatrice" lines in A Series of Unfortunate Events because they were part of the whole conceit, and as the series went on your understanding of Beatrice evolved.

As for me, I've got a list. Family members, a handful of teachers. Possibly people picked at random.

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Grumpy old guy
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Somehow I don't think people would believe me if I said the Global Financial Crisis, but it's true.

Phil.

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Robert Nowall
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My work hasn't progressed to the point where crafting a dedication would matter.
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Natej11
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
My work hasn't progressed to the point where crafting a dedication would matter.

Sadly, I'm in the same boat. Which doesn't mean I don't still do it every now and again, sometimes in ways that could only be described as mean spirited if I've had a bad day.
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tesknota
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I haven't given too much thought about my own dedications yet. I've considered dedicating my works to my favorite authors, particularly the ones that have had the most influence over the corresponding piece.

@Pyre: I also enjoyed the "For Beatrice" dedications. Especially after there were three of them in a row and I started to catch on. =)

Here's another one I like, because it's fresh on my mind and right next to me:

For Jenny, this little world that was blessed to have you peeking over my shoulder while it took shape ---
Love Always.

The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch.

(Who is a far better writer than I could ever hope to be.)

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wise
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
[QB] Somehow I don't think people would believe me if I said the Global Financial Crisis, but it's true.

GOG - I'm with you. That and the fact that my Social Security and Medicare that I was kind of depending on to get me through a retirement (that will be delayed anyway under struggling financial circumstances) may be seriously diminished. I'm writing my novel to build a nest egg to get through the rest of my life. Just hope the darn thing sells!

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Robert Nowall
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Well, one reason (besides writer's block and not ever actually selling anything) that I didn't rely on the idea of making money at writing was that I thought I should build some kind of nest egg for retirement and do my writing then, where it wouldn't matter what I made doing it---much.

Just one reason...the "not selling anything" was a factor, too...

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