It’s been a challenging festive season in many ways and today is no better. So while the other occupants of the house have an afternoon nap, I thought I’d indulge myself in drawing up a new entry for the First Draft column at Writer’s Forum Magazine.
For those of you who don’t know it, the First Draft column is a 250-word section of a modern novel into which 20 mistakes have been deliberately inserted for the reader to find.
I love doing these. It’s so much more fun putting deliberate (and preferably sneaky) mistakes into writing than hunting down and taking out inadvertent ones.
Today I have started and changed tack twice. The first 250-word section had some fantastic opportunities for error insertion, but the more I read it, the more I thought the original contained an error. This complicated things.
So, I chose another 250-word section from the same book – Donna Leon’s The Temptation of Forgiveness – which I bought myself for Christmas. I love Donna’s mild-mannered Venetian detective, Brunetti.
…in the second section I met another dilemma: Yes, they were hand-sewn.
Hmm. Should ‘hand-sewn’ be hyphenated? Really? I felt it should be two words and my husband-cum-grammar and spelling guru agreed. The internet didn’t help. Dictionaries mostly listed ‘handsewn’ but mentioned in passing ‘hand-sewn’ as a variant. Grammarians, on the other hand, argued till my head hurt (it was nothing to do with the Bailey’s, honest).
Now what do I do? Add a note to my submission to the effect that ‘hand-sewn’ is the author’s original and I’m not sure enough about it to strike it out, or start a third passage? At this rate, I’ll finish the whole book by examining it for potentials for the column, and that will spoil the read. I do so want to enjoy Inspector Brunetti’s next adventure.
Still, it goes to show that even if you’ve had multiple books published by a respected publisher, it doesn’t mean you’re an expert at grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Which is reassuring.
Happy New Year, everyone, and may you all find writing success in 2019.