Friday, July 20, 2007

As Difficult to Penetrate as an Emerging Writer

Typos are universal in published work. There are few times I have read an entire novel and not seen at least one misused comma, misspelled word ("bass" for "base," for example), etc. May Day and June Bug have a couple, too. For the most part, typos are not distracting, especially if the novel is otherwise well-written, but sometimes they're funny. I just came across the following typo in an online mystery writing ezine, and it shows the power of little words ("as," in this case):

"The writing industry is often as difficult to penetrate as an emerging writer."

It makes us new writers sound like a pretty frigid lot, no? The ezine is otherwise fantastic, and I emailed them a heads up about the typo. The editor responded with this email, which made me giggle:

"I choose to blame my husband completely. He also put in a short story, when a cop was calling for paramedics after his partner was shot, 'Tell them to hurray.' Ahhh, typos."

As a college writing instructor for ten years, I've also seen some my share of student typos, like the paper calling for a ban on youth in Asia in hospitals, and the essay saying we needed to stop taking our rights for granite. Technically, those may be biffos and not typos because they weren't accidental. This is a good time to plug reading. Reading makes people smart.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I recently received a letter (a real letter, not an e-mail) from a reader who painstakenly listed each and every typo and/or boffo she found in one of my books. There weren't many, but the fact that she listed each one, with corresponding page numbers and paragraphs told me two things: 1) she really was paying attention; and 2)she has a lot of time on her hands.

Julia Buckley said...

I've never heard of "biffos," but if they mean "stupid mistakes," then yes, some of those fit the bill. I once had an argument with a student who said the expression was "nip it in the butt." I begged to disagree, and her look said "you're old and out of touch, lady."

What bothers me the most are the typos that I see on television news. I realize that people have to work quickly, but did we ever see so many misspelled names and locations?

Jess Lourey said...

Um, I had a typo in that post, I realize. Jeezus.

Sue Ann, that writer is just helping you out so you can get them all fixed for your next print run. :)