My editor, Allister Thompson, changed punctuation not only to conform to Dundurn’s guidelines but also to correct mine which is random at best. As one of those who managed to avoid grade thirteen in Ontario and the insistence that every English student master punctuation I do my best but it really isn’t my long suit.
He did challenge some of my word choices. He replaced sneaked with snuck and I again chose sneaked which to me sounds like the action and reminds me of other similar words such as leaked, crept, sidled and slithered which suggest furtive action whereas snuck seems to me to be an abrupt, in-your-face, harsh kind of word. We’ll see how sneaked fares.
Allister questioned whether an irate street-wise eleven-year-old would refer to a puppy that had chewed her hoodie as a ‘little bugger’ saying that was much too English. My writing group made several suggestions and I went with ‘ass-hole’. We’ll see if that flies.
There are a number of First Nation characters in the novel. This brings up tricky issues of political correctness. It seems to me that we who are not Aboriginals must tread carefully whereas those who are may refer to themselves as Indians or Natives. This issue also arose in the ms and I usually opted for First Nation or Aboriginal rather than Indian or Native. I’d be interested to know what other people think.
Allister pointed out a timing problem and I added a torture scene to prolong a tense situation and allow the police time to reach the scene. I hope it fills the bill.
He went on line to check several facts and as a result I changed my characters’ menu choices in a particular Toronto restaurant from Caesar salad which they don’t serve to a green salad which they do. Now I would never have thought to do this but will in the future.
He also drew to my attention that since amalgamation it is the Toronto Police Services not the Metro Police.
I suppose that with the exception of needing to extend a scene to fill more time no changes were monumental but each one adds to the authenticity of the book and that is important for readers. We have all had the experience of being an expert in a field and finding an error that jars our sensibilities.
Having a thorough editor is wonderful and I feel grateful that my ms was read so carefully. Thanks Allister.
A member of the Ladies Killing Circle, Joan Boswell co-edited four of their short story anthologies: Fit to Die, Bone Dance, Boomers Go Bad and Going Out With a Bang. Her three mysteries, Cut Off His Tale, Cut to the Quick and, Cut and Run were published in 2005, 2007 and 2007. In 2000 she won the $10,000 Toronto Star’s short story contest. Joan lives in Toronto with three flat-coated retrievers.