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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

Finely Tuned

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Dear Hearts,

A few months ago, I found myself in need of a new set of violin strings. As a classically trained symphony violinist, I prefer a particular sound. The sound I enjoy involves several components, one of which requires a certain set of strings.

Now, I definitely am fixed on the Dominant brand for my three lower strings: the A, D, and G; however, I had yet to discover a decent E (the highest string on a violin, over an octave above middle C). Each one I had tried so far failed to produce the sweetness for which I searched. Yes, I realize that most of the tone which I need to hear comes from my own expertise as a violinist; however, simply playing an “open E” on most strings so far produced a thin “tin” sound, requiring a lot of work on my part to put forth a lovely one. All the vibrato in the world from the left hand, and masterful bowing complete with a specific rosin from the right, did not make enough difference in order to please my ear.

So, I lamented my plight on Facebook for all the world to see, and VOILA! A fellow violinist came through with a suggestion. Krisha Montmorency - accomplished musician, phenomenal symphony orchestra librarian, and all ‘round know-it-all (in a good way!) - came to my rescue with a recommendation.

I then reached out to Joe Bruce, marketing mogul at, who personally took it upon himself to dig for this specific string and send it to me. Eureka!

Like any craft which requires finely tuned components, reached by trial and error, the devil truly is in the details. Dear Hearts, I cannot even imagine what a vintner goes through in order to create a good wine; nor an artisan who scrims under a microscope using tiny needles and ink to create minutely detailed artwork on a small piece of solid material.

Writing a novel is no different, my Dear Heart readers. We start with an idea, a main character, or even a place. The story swirls around in our heads as we ruminate on the thing. It becomes part of us, this tale. We live with the characters who pay rent in our minds.

And that is simply the beginning. Sometimes I know where the story is headed. Other times not. Either way, what may seem unimportant when hammering out a rough draft, becomes a critical point in the second. There are no two and three edits before turning the manuscript over to another pair of eyes. More like six, nine, or many more.

The writer isn’t simply reviewing for punctuation, grammar, syntax, flow, etc.; although, this is much of the writing and editing process. She is changing tiny items such as the color of one’s dress, time of year, the way a character moves, and so on.

And the revisions! Dear Hearts, don’t get me started.

In my first novel, “The Big Smile”, one constructive criticism made by my editor was that the entirety of my carefully researched history about the restored Spanish War Galleon in the book was clustered all in one spot. She strongly suggested I break it up and sprinkle the history throughout the book. Her thought was that the reader would possibly skim over this important section if left as is. And she was correct. So, I wrote a new version which made the history much more interesting and added value to the story.

Today, partially due to the proper changes to the instrument, my violin sounds rich on the bottom strings and sweet on the high notes. It’s one less thing I have to think about when I need my brain to concentrate more on playing a difficult passage, then bringing it up to speed.

Sometimes, I think it would be nice to be able to finely tune my novels by reaching out to an expert who can recommend a fix.

But then, Dear Hearts, where’s the fun in that?

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