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Posts Tagged ‘spelling conventions’

What the hell! the reader exclaims. This writer can’t spell! She’s written travelling instead of traveling and centre instead of center and realisation instead of realization. Colour instead of color.  This book is crap! It’s riddled with spelling errors and grammatical problems. It’s a bloody one star from me.

No. It’s not riddled with spelling errors and grammatical problems. It’s not written in US English. Believe it or not English speakers from different countries have different spelling conventions as well as different idiom. The USA adopted their own spelling conventions, I believe based on some rational thinking, but…the rest of us are pretty much following the queen on this.

Arse instead of ass! And also different terms for things like lift and elevator, pavement and sidewalk, garbage and trash, crockery and flatware, scones and biscuits, have a shower and take a shower, yadda yadda… Also, I’ve noticed things like towards and toward (the latter being the US convention), onwards and onward etc. And even things like practise and practice. In the US there is only practice for both the verb and the noun and the same with defence and defence.

It is a reality for a lot of writers being smacked down for something that’s not quite right, it’s just a tad strange to the reader but is not wrong or bad.

Some traditional publishers put out a US version of a book and ‘other’ English version. Sometimes, in Australia we’ll get a book that is by an Australian author and it’s in US English. It doesn’t matter much to me as a reader. I see it’s the US spelling but I don’t think it’s spelt wrongly. But I’m trying hard to put myself in US readers’ shoes, particularly if they don’t often encounter British or Australian writing in its native English. I try to understand this reaction, this dismissal of work not following US spelling conventions but can’t quite do it.

The Silverlands series and the Love and Space Pirates series are written in Australian English. The Dragon Wine series is in US English because that’s the way the publisher went and I’m sticking with that spelling convention on my re published versions and the next instalments. It’s not too hard to do it that way, but being a non-US person I don’t think everything I write should be written as if a US person wrote it.

Of course, typos exist and mistakes, too, in manuscripts. With the best intentions errors can creep in. Most publishers and authors try very hard to minimise and exclude them if possible. I’ve seen typos in books from traditional publishers as well as Indie published books. Hell I’ve made them! Some come from poor proofreading. I had some recently that a proofreader didn’t pick up and neither did I until now. Not my professional  proofreader. He’s amazing. In fact, a good proofreader is worth their weight in gold and the nit pickier they are the better. They enforce your style guide, pick up weird word usages etc. Things me and my editors don’t particularly notice.

So I had things that a spellchecker wouldn’t pick up-a homophone,  for example, lead instead of led. A name spelt wrong that my dyslexic brain didn’t pick up. But if I get feedback that something is wrong, the book will go back for proofreading by me in the first instance. If it has never been professionally proofread then I’d consider saving up to have it professionally proofread. Other errors can creep in when the proof corrections are taken up. Actually any time you open a manuscript and change something you are introducing the risk of error so it pays to be very careful and not rush. (Listen to your own advice Hanson!). A space that doesn’t register between words, a wrong letter. Sometimes these also get missed in a spellchecker because the wrong word is still a real word. I found one in Oathbound on the weekend. ‘Would’ instead of ‘wound’. That had to be a error made when making a correction to the document. It’s a bloody nightmare I tell you and it occurs in the first bloody chapter!

There can be missing full stops, missing speech marks, missing words (usually small ones like ‘a’ and ‘the’ and ‘to’ and they are hard to spot. I’ve seen all these in traditionally published books some times worse things, like wrong character names but…

Hopefully, the book you are reading doesn’t have seven to eight errors on a page, but seven or eight errors in a whole book, is probably not too bad. A colleague told me that she read a book that had so many errors, about eight to ten per page but the story was so good she still gave it five stars. I think that might be an exception to the rule. When you read a book and find a typo consider writing to the author or the publisher and let them know so it can be fixed. Preferably with a page number or chapter reference. It is so appreciated. Really it is. I’m hoping errors don’t disrupt your enjoyment of a book too much. People try. I try, but sometimes stuff happens.

 

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