Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Art of Language

Blechta here. Two days late, but life has been busy recently... Sorry to step on your day a bit, Debby!

Speaking of which, I think that Debby has opened a very large can of worms, fun worms to be sure, by wigglers nonetheless. I encourage further discussion!

I'm willing to bet that every writer is just as much in love with words as we are in telling stories. It's endlessly fascinating to swap words, phrases, sentences around until they seem to lock together into something that communicates what we want it to.

That's the upside.

The downside is that accidents do happen -- and they can be very embarrassing. I may have mentioned that I actually wrote this sentence in the first draft of my latest novel: "My Teacher was a short, wiry man with a big nose named Barry."

Fortunately, I found this miscreant sentence pretty quickly and I did have a big chuckle over it, but I can also assure you that I wouldn't have been chuckling if it had somehow run the gauntlet of eagle eyes and made it into the printed version of the book, not unless I was Carl Hiaasen.

From the Why Didn't Anyone Save Me From Myself Department: There is a respected Toronto writer who had a sentence in a published crime novel, describing how his character, who'd gotten a good boot to the crotch, fell to the ground and curled up into the "coital position".

Now that's funny.

But probably not to him. It's not something he'll soon forget. Not that we're going to let that happen...


Anonymous said...

I have only one thing to say to that: God bless good editors! They're supposed to fix our mistakes. Not being perfect myself (although I make every effort), I was truly blessed with expert editors when my mystery THE INFERNO COLLECTION was published by Five Star/Gale.
Still, when I received the ARCs, I found errors that had not been in the final edit and hurriedly corrected them, so they would not be in the final hardcover edition. In the last analysis, you really have edit and re-edit your own work.

Jacqueline Seewald

Rick Blechta said...

You make a very good point, Jacqueline. Ultimately, we are the responsible ones. If the production people (I'm including editors in here) introduce their own errors (and you're not alone in making this claim), then what the heck are we poor authors to do?

I also find that by the time I get to the end of the writing and editing process, I have no idea what I'm reading anymore. Basically, in many instances, I'm reading what I believe is there not what actually is there, and so left out or reversed words in particular can get overlooked.

I guess in the end you work an ms or a proof over as diligently as you can -- then hope for the best!

Thanks for stopping by!

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