How (Not) to Talk to a Writer #5

Did you know that on page 37 of Book 1 of Series X that you got _______________ wrong?


This is one of those conversations that every author dreads.

There’s always something wrong. Always. We just can’t create perfect work. It’s impossible. And once something is published (save for e-books) it’s very difficult to change anything.


(Let me give you an example: When I wrote the very first bit of The Golden City, I set it in Venice. That lasted about one day, but I had already given 4 characters Italian names. When I switched the setting to Portugal, I somehow missed changing one of those names to the Portuguese spelling. Yes, I know it’s wrong, but…I can’t change it. I can’t fix it. I can come up with a convoluted explanation for why that character uses an Italian spelling (I do have one), but in the end….I can’t fix it. Sorry.)


Some people are honestly trying to be helpful when they tell us these things. And if it’s something that the writer -can- fix, it does help.

Some people just enjoy commenting on that sort of thing. They love catching other people out. It’s their hobby…

Authors try hard get everything right, but sometimes even choose to get things wrong. Intentionally, I mean.

Here’s my example:
I had a sentence where someone said “…kill two birds with one stone.”

I quibbled and quibbled and quibbled over ‘correcting’ this one, because the Portuguese saying is “Matar dois coelhos de uma cajadada.” That’s “Kill two RABBITS with one stone.”

The more and more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that English readers would be thrown out of the story if I used ‘rabbits’ in that sentence, and they’re my audience, not Portuguese readers. So I used ‘birds’.

And so someone -will- eventually come up to me and say, “Did you know that on page X of The Golden City you got the saying wrong? It’s really…”

So please try to be patient with us writers. We’re not perfect…


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