When I started writing seriously, I found I would stop and research certain phrases and spellings of different words. In my Googling, I found that I had a tendency to use the UK spelling of many words, especially towards, backwards and theatre. Well, theatre I knew, but I reserved that spelling for plays/Broadway type references and theater for the movies.
I was surprised. Towards and backwards just sounds right to me. It seems stilted with out the S on the end. While I was self-publishing, I just let it ride. No one really ever called me out on it and I decided if they didn’t care, I could get away with it. I figured, unless someone was a Grammar Nazi or an Anglophile, it wouldn’t bother folks.
It was all fine and dandy until I signed with Harmony Ink Press and their editor got a hold of the manuscript. When I got it back to accept and/or reject edits, I saw the poor editor had to change every towards to toward, dropping the S. I was shocked to see how often I used it. It was so bad that I left a little comment apologizing for all the extra work. It was something I could have easily corrected with the Find & Replace before querying.
It goes to show, just because you like how the word colour looks with a U doesn’t mean you should use it if your book doesn’t take place in the UK or Canada, even then, if you have an American audience it probably wouldn’t fly. I’m not sure if editors would let it pass in dialog from a character who hails from those areas either. Maybe…maybe not.
Will I start using the American spellings? Probably not, it’s ingrained in me now, but I will definitely try to remember to fix them before sending it out so some poor editor doesn’t have to correct them all!
Do you use unusual spellings in your writing? Have they gotten you in trouble?