Speaking of Editing Mistakes

As a writer, I am aware of and sympathetic to the paralyzing fear of making silly mistakes.  I have been known to make them myself.  If you catch me whelping out stupidity, please, please bonk me upside the head.  It is far better to be embarrassed in practice, rather than to be humiliated in print.

As a reader and a human being I can’t help but laugh when I see these gaffes in publication.  I give you now the smallest of errors that gave me the biggest of laughs.  I found this gem in an online magazine:

…Sometimes I’d drive by the old house and yell.  If the new yuppies (owners) were in the lawn I’d keep quiet.  Their smiles got me.  …

When I read these lines, I got a flash image of the new owners half buried in the lawn, with their smiling faces turned toward the sun.  It reminded me of that old movie ‘Motel Hell.’ Of course, what made it even more humorous was the fact that it was a serious piece.

What’s the lesson here?  Do the little words matter? The mistake was only one letter off, with a disastrous meaning.  It got past the writer and the editor.  Can one tiny preposition throw the whole piece into the trash can?  Probably 99 out of 100 people would not notice.  But, for me, if the mistake sparks memories of an old horror flick, I guess it can.  Am I being pedantic?   Maybe.

Just had to share. ;o BTW:  I have read worse mistakes without laughing.  Some are just hilarious.


3 thoughts on “Speaking of Editing Mistakes

  1. Interesting that your mistake is indicative of something in German. In English we talk about being “in” bed, i.e. under the covers. If you try to do the same thing “auf deutsch”, i.e. say “im Bett” that does mean “inside” of the bed. You need to say “am Bett” which means “on the bed” but it implies “under the covers.” The way, I got rid of mistakes? Read it all out loud. You’re much less likely to let something slip by, if you HEAR yourself making the error.

  2. Here’s a statement that cracked me up forty years ago, when a friend’s wife said it…and SHE was an English teacher. She said,
    “We ate some of the bread made by the Indians that Mary gave me.”

  3. Interesting that your mistake…Correction, my friend, it’s wasn’t my mistake. Technically speaking and in English, it would be incorrect to say “IN” bed. One is upon the bed or on the bed. One is under the covers. However, I’m not going to throw rocks at anyone who says, ‘I’m in bed.’

    It’s just funny that a writer would pen…in the lawn. Or, his eyes rolled across the floor. Or, her heart sank into her stomach, down her colon and out her….

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