Thursday, August 6, 2015

To Many Misstakes

by Alan

What’s the biggest blunder you made in a manuscript, and
did you catch it before publication?

Well, as you might imagine, I’ve made plenty of blunders in my manuscripts. In fact, I imagine there are some people who might say that some of my entire manuscripts are blunders (H8ers gonna h8!).

Here are a few boo-boos that spring to mind:

Like Meredith, I sometimes struggle with my story’s timeline. In my latest book, RUNNING FROM THE PAST, I had written a scene that took place in an old inn, and two characters were having an intimate conversation, late at night, in front of a roaring fire, the flickering light and warmth of the flames adding to the cozy atmosphere. There was just one little problem. It was the middle of August!

I fixed that (early on).

In my horror novel, THE TASTE, I wrote a snippet of original poetry to set the tone for a particular chapter. Here it is:

thetastecoverforwebsiteThe men fell like toy soldiers beneath a wrathful child’s foot. 
Not wood nor tin, but born of flesh.
Warriors rose in waves to replace the fallen, only to perish as their comrades had.
Man killing man, kin slaying kin.
Senseless battles raged fierce.

And the men fell still.
Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam.
O Antietam!
Twenty-five thousand crimson creeks birthed a roiling river, staining the land forever.
Bodies littered fields like decaying crabapples.
Their putrid stench fouled the air.

Ah, but the vultures feasted!

Which, in context, is pretty cool, if I do say so myself. However, in one version, I inadvertently used the wrong word (one of my biggest fears as a writer!). I had used “carrion” instead of “vultures” in the last line.

I fixed that, too (thank goodness!).

One time, I found a mistake that got introduced sometime during the copy edit process. Anyone who lives in the DC metro area is familiar with Tysons Corner, an ocean of concrete supporting a flotilla of shopping centers and office buildings. Well, all of the references got changed to Tyson’s Corner, which would stand out in this town like an honest politician.

I got that fixed, too. If I hadn’t, I would have been forced from my home by angry, torch-wielding Washingtonians.

That’s three blunders, off the top of my head. I’m sure if I sat down and compiled a list, I’d be able to come up with another three dozen or so, in short order.

Luckily, not too many mistakes have made it into print. At least I don’t think so. Once one of my books gets published, I don’t reread it.

I’m too afraid I’ll find a mistake.


Paul D. Marks said...

Good advice, Alan, about never looking back. You might turn into a block of salt or pepper or some other Schilling spice. It really is not a good idea to look back though. There's always something we missed. Hopefully it's just little stuff, like typos. But sometimes it's things you know but somehow said wrong (like your Tysons Corner example) and then you just hope no one comes after you with sharpened pitchforks.

Susan C Shea said...

I'm like you - I'm afraid to read anything in print that might still have a typo!