Errors and Omissions Accepted

Writing a novel is one thing, having it published quite another. What would be perfectly acceptable in the privacy of one’s own boudoir becomes unacceptable when exposed to the quirky light of public scrutiny. The typos, missing quotation marks, variable spaces between sentences and other minor blemishes in one’s magnum opus become suppurating sores in the mind of the author, post-publication. In the run up to the final act, it is easy to come to the conclusion that, even while the precious .docx file is tucked away on the hard drive, errors are randomly generated by some mysterious, subversive process which it outwith your control.

There are other varieties of errors, though, and these are not always quite so readily apparent to the reader. They fall into a spectrum which ranges from factual and/or continuity blunders to deliberate manipulation of fact which falls under the general heading of “artistic licence.” An example of the former would be the point in The Butterfly & The Bull where the hero is standing in the road beside the forest and can hear the rain “as it followed the call of gravity and slipped from canopy to floor, leaf by leaf. ” An observant reader, who also happens to be familiar with the seasons in Southern Maryland, would realize that this action is set in March and there would be no leaves on the trees.  The author, having spotted his mistake, thought it a risk worth taking to leave well alone, mainly because he liked the passage so much. He did consider briefly an alternative solution which was to change the whole time frame of the novel, but baulked at the magnitude of the task.

An example which is somewhere near the other end of this spectrum is to be found when the action moves to an island off the west coast of Ireland.  At one point, the hero and his companion are bundled into a van and driven onto an old ferry which takes them to the mainland.  In point of fact, research revealed that ferries of the “landing craft” type which the author had in mind are not used in that part of the coast.  But he stuck to what he had originally written, because it suited the flow of the action better (and also because of many warm memories of being carried on such craft in his native Scotland).

There are several more examples, but I’m not going to share them with you.  Read the book, and you can find them for yourself.


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2 responses to “Errors and Omissions Accepted

  1. Or be like me, read the book, go with the flow, and, knowing nothing of either of the above, enjoy it. Yun’s jist pure artisitc licence.

  2. Good advice. My problem is that this is supposed to be an ‘author’s blog’ and I have to think up authorial things to write about. I’m trying to keep it going whist traveling, helping folks build IKEA furniture, babysit etc. I’m sure it’ll pick up once I’m settled back at base…

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