Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Mistake I Purposely Made…

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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?

Intended Symbolism? Probably Not.

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I recently came across this great article about a student back in 1963 who sent out a questionnaire to 150 well known authors, asking about symbolism in their writing.  The student, Bruce McAllister, a budding author, was debating with his English teacher who was having students dissect stories to find the author’s hidden message. McAllister argued that he believed most authors weren’t intentionally placing symbolism in their works.

McAllister received many replies ranging from the typical “Thanks for contacting us but we cannot answer your questions at this time” canned response, to several pages worth of typed answers. Many of the authors who took the time to respond backed up McAllister’s theory saying , “No, I didn’t intentionally add symbolism.” Many felt they didn’t sub-consciously add it either.

All in all, the authors said they wrote their stories as they came to them and most found  reader responses about symbols in their work as humorous or as an interesting connection to their story.

Everyone is going to have a different reaction to art, to take something different from it.  For me, that’s one of the great things about art, how it touches people in different ways.  While my stories may have themes and morals: forgiveness, tolerance, acceptance, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally wrote in any kind of symbolism.  Might a reader find something if they look hard enough? Maybe.  I think it’d be cool, but just because they find something doesn’t mean I meant it to be like that.

Just because an author has a kid kicking around a blue and green ball it doesn’t mean they wrote that to symbolism the Earth and our poor treatment of the planet we live on. It probably just means the author liked the combination of blue and green together, or they had a blue and green ball as a kid, etc.

Rather than tearing a work apart to find something the author probably didn’t intentionally write into the story, read for enjoyment. Reading for the emotional roller coaster, the laughs, the love and for the entertainment of a good story.

What’s your take on story symbolism?

Here’s the original article and many of the author responses: Click me