Editing – a few of my favorite mistakes

We all have those typos that live in infamy, those occasions where we edit but leave something behind… The following are a few of my favorites.

As you may, or may not know, I’m working on editing the novel I started in NaNoWriMo.  As I do, I find some errors that make me laugh.  They aren’t the worst I’ve done, but some of them are doozies.

The most memorable was a sequence (when you removed character reactions and the like) that ended up reading like Dr. Suess:

“They’re taking her to Charleston!”
“To Charleston?”
“To Charleston.”
“They’re taking her to Charleston.”

I was trying to make it a) more dramatic and b) figure out a way of saying ‘West Virginia, not North Carolina.’

I failed, and yet it makes for good ‘editing room floor’ stories.

One of my better ‘mistakes) occurred when I tried to replace ‘He rolled his eyes’ with ‘He shook his head’ and ended up with “He shook his eyes.”

This, of course, caused great amusement among my beta-readers, leading to the comment: <shakes eyes> when someone does something ridiculous.

Thursday I was looking for things that would go with the line ‘What’s that smell?’ and wrote ‘Sneaky dog farts’ as one possibility.  (when I wrote it, I was thinking ‘stinky’ but for some reason my brain and fingers wrote something that sounded similar.)

I’ve been doing that a lot lately when I’m tired, and its usually the sign that I should stop.  Sometimes these things are better than what I consciously wanted to write but, more often than not, they’re so ‘wrong’ they’re laughable. <shakes eyes>

It’s an odd aphasic quirk I’ve had since childhood – I don’t always see or hear things correctly, and my brain tries to supply appropriate translations.

The ‘Harbor Tunnel’ became the ‘Horrible Tunnel’, ‘green beans’ became ‘strange beans’ or ‘string things’ or ‘strange things’; garage town homes became ‘garish townhomes’ … you get the idea.

I’ve learned to work with this– but again, when I’m tired (like… trying to write 1667 words a day after a full day’s work) I do come up with some big ones.

I know it’s human nature and odds are there are some really, really good ones out there.  It kind of makes me wonder what’s on other people’s cutting room floor, and when they were caught.

What’s your best ‘bad’ line?


May 5, 2014

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