Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Don't Wave that Fish at me!

Okay, I confess it. I am not the world's best typist. In the days of the old typewriters I was hopeless. Even when the powerball was invented, I wasn't too hot. Then came computers and--hooray--for the first time I could type as fast as I could think. It changed my world.

However, typing this fast does sometimes lead to mistakes, which are not always picked up when I read through, and then somehow overlooked by my copy-editors, and proof-readers. One of these was pointed out to me yesterday by the actress who is reading the Royal Spyness books. In the book Royal Flush I have a character called Hugo Beasley-Bottome. I know it's a silly name, but the sort of name one does find among the English aristocracy. (I went to school with a Joan Fairbottom) Anyway, once in the book I refer to him as "Huge Beastly-Bottome."  My reader wanted to know if this was correct and I was being funny.
Not at all. Just a bad typist accompanied by sloppy proof readers.

And today I've just made another howler, only I caught this one on a read-through. I wanted to write, "She shook her fist at him." 
Instead I wrote, "She shook her fish at him."
I could see all my readers puzzled over where this lady managed to find a fish in a drawing room.

It's not my fault. My hands have a life of their own. They sometimes type words I don't want them to type. It's rather like my car having a mind of its own and taking me to a familiar site when I am really headed in the opposite direction.

So fellow writers, have you ever made a really funny typing error that was not picked up? And readers--have you ever come across anything worse that Huge Beastly-Bottome?


  1. Rhys, I make plenty of typos, but, most of the time, they're only unfortunate, or obstructive, seldom amusing. I have a feeling that when I've made the howlers, I've had such a good time laughing about them at discovery that I completely forget them later . . . .

  2. I make typos, too.
    And I've read plenty, as well. My favorite was proofreading a classics paper about ancient Geese. It was throughout the paper. At least it was consistent!

  3. I kind of think 'don't wave your fish at me' has a nice ring to it.

  4. My favorite came in response to an assignment I gave my college students. They were to write a letter of complaint. One young woman chose to write to her bank regarding charges the bank made to her account. She closed the letter as follows: "While I have enjoyed doing business with Bank of America, I do not appreciate these erogenous charges."

  5. Rhys, back in 1984, an instructor I had in the graduate writing program at USC had us go out and collect typos or unfortunate phrasings for a week and then bring them to class. We would laugh ourselves senseless over the various missed meanings. I found one that was in every single elevator on the campus--can't remember it now, but it was something like, 'in case of emergency, dial the supplied phone', only there was no dial, only a red button, and I wonder if anyone knew what a 'supplied' phone was, anyway.

  6. Sorry to join this discussion a couple of days late...But...
    In Bk 1 I'd intended to type, "He began to shift in his seat, and I turned to stare at him."
    I didn't. I had left the fourth letter out of 'shift'.
    Thank goodness for galleys.