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June 7, 2020

The story I’m writing is not working. It’s disjointed, lacks cohesion. Back to the arc for planning. Arrgh!

A question. Why do so many independently published novels so obviously suffer from poor editing? Let’s take, oh, I don’t know, say spelling as an example. Homophones are real things. Thus, we have to, too, and two, as well as there, their, and they’re. There (did you see that) are of course other examples, but those alone occur often enough in some of the independently published books I’ve read to become a deciding factor in whether I will read further. Given that I read a lot of Kindle ebooks, if such mistakes occur in the “look inside” feature I am very unlikely to buy the book.

Here’s another. I know that everyone makes mistakes in areas other than spelling. We are, after all, only human. Still, if there is something that figures prominently in a story, it might be worth a little extra research. Since I am a bit of a gun guy, let’s consider guns. The following all have one thing in common:

  • Bolt action
  • Lever action
  • The .30-30 Winchester round
  • Semiautomatic action
  • Automatic action
  • Rifle scopes
  • Detachable magazines
  • Smokeless gunpoweder

What do they have in common? They were all developed in the 19th century. That’s an interesting fact for discussions of firearms in general, but when writing something set in the 19th century, there’s something else to consider. That is, they were not all developed at the same time. The .30-30 Winchester round, first called the .30 WCF (Winchester Center Fire) was first marketed in 1895. It was the first “sporting” (as opposed to military) round designed specifically for smokeless gunpowder, which was developed in 1881. So, when I was recently reading an “Old West” type horror novel set in 1865, it was jarring to note that the author referred to someone owning a .30-30 so far in advance of when it existed. This same author seemingly likes to make references to someone being armed with two Colt Peacemakers because it provides him with 12 shots. The Peacemaker was a single action revolver. Many, perhaps even most, people who carried one did so with the hammer over an empty cylinder so that if the weapon was dropped or the hammer was accidentally pulled by something, the gun would not go off. All of the above can be gleaned from a Google search in far less time than it took me to write this paragraph.

Cordite. No. Your present day character almost certainly does not smell Cordite during or after a gun fight. It is not used for small arms any longer, and has not been so used for a very long time. If you did not know this, it to can be learned with a very quick Google search.

Boats, specifically those in the United States Coast Guard are not cutters unless they are at least 65′ long. If they are shorter than that, they are termed “small boats.”

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One Comment
  1. Editing is hard work, so editors either need to be paid or have some serious motivation to work on a book. If you haven’t the money, you might inquire of your associates if anyone might want to take a blue pencil to a chapter or two. Promise them cake or barbeque or something.

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