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Those small words are very important - remember to use them

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Just read an interesting line in a story where forgetting one small word changed the meaning a lot.

Quote

The hot water probably burned as feeling returned her extremities.

end quote

I do think they meant to write:

The hot water probably burned as feeling returned to her extremities.

But the way it's written I do wonder where the extremities had wandered off to.

This isn't the first time this author had missed a small word like to, or, and - but this one jumped up and screamed at me.

usual typo edit

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

I automatically read the non-existent "to" and wondered what you were complaining about (until I read your explanation and then re-read the sentence slowly).

Replies:   REP
REP

@Switch Blayde

I automatically read the non-existent "to"


The bane of every writer who does not use an editor. It also happens all too often to those who have an editor.

Switch Blayde

@REP

The bane of every writer who does not use an editor. It also happens all too often to those who have an editor.


I queried an agent a week ago which included the 1st 3 chapters of my manuscript. I blind-copied myself and read the email from my inbox to make sure all the copy and pastes formatted correctly. The first word in the next to last sentence had a typo ("It a flash" instead of "In a flash"). I can't tell you how many times I read it and how many others read it without catching that. I changed it in my manuscript, but there's nothing I can do about the email already sent.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Switch Blayde

I feel your pain.

I sometimes think I've worn my foot down to a nubbin what with all the times I had to kick my posterior for overlooking something that seems blatantly obvious in retrospect.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The bane of every writer who does not use an editor. It also happens all too often to those who have an editor.

Believe me, it happens frequently to those of us using multiple editors. Reading some details about professional editors (and their services), many authors hire a second proofreader after the first finishes their work. I know, many content editors recommend you hire a proofreader to review their work to catch any new included errors.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@REP


I sometimes think I've worn my foot down to a nubbin what with all the times I had to kick my posterior for overlooking something that seems blatantly obvious in retrospect.


I keep reminding readers to alert me to any errors, encouraging feedback. They're pretty reliable about catching many outstanding typos and other errors my editors miss, yet there are still numerous typos discovered in stories written, edited and vetted to the public years ago.

Some things just never change. The difference is, with us, we can change the errors whenever we spot them. For the traditionally published, once a book goes to print, your only chance to correct is in later reprints 5, 10 or 20 years later.

Then again, it's probably nice washing you hands of the entire thing. I know each of us (here on SOL) have differing criteria for when we finally cease frittering with a story, maybe correcting typos, but otherwise not examining older stories for fear they'll suck you in again. Knowing it's out of your hands must be a sweet release.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

Multiple editors reminds me of a situation we had at a company I worked for. The Project Manager assigned two mechanical engineers to work together on designing an assembly. They each had a different approach and apparently didn't talk to each other about the released design. One would change the design and then the other would change it back. After several cycles of very costly design changes, the drafting department got word of the "dueling engineers" to the Project Manager, who had to pay for their little turf war.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Multiple editors reminds me of a situation we had at a company I worked for. ... After several cycles of very costly design changes, the drafting department got word of the "dueling engineers" to the Project Manager, who had to pay for their little turf war.

That's the key, instead of a manager who had no idea what engineers actually do, the author has the final word on what will be included in the book. It may not be in the style books, but if it works, they can run with it.

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