Monday, October 1, 2018
TO TRUST SPELL CHECK...OR NOT? by JERRY GUIN
I read with interest the excellent blog by Cheryl Pierson for Western Fictioneers, Sept. 18 (I'll be there for you even when I shouldn't be).
It was about the use of modern-day language and terms authors mistakenly use in their stories before the terms began being used in everyday talk.
Okay, to take this one step further, let's take specific word spelling and intended usage, for example.
The other day, I was reading a pretty good old west story. In a saloon sequence, one of the characters winced after he had taken a drink of whiskey.
Nothing unusual about that--however, that word, wince, rang a bell in my head. For some reason, I remembered that earlier that day, I had used the word in a similar setting, but spelled it differently. I was writing about a character who winced after he tasted his drink, but I had spelled it winched.
Per Webster’s, wince is to draw back or grimace as if in pain. Winch is defined as a machine for hoisting a heavy load. The two words have no similarity in meaning whatsoever.
I put my book down and immediately went to the computer and made the correction. I was relieved to know that, at least, the error was corrected before going further.
Almost everyone makes those kinds of mistakes. To the computer, both words are correct, and the spell check cannot pick up on your intended usage.
Lots of other words have plural meanings or are, at least, pesky to put into intended proper usage.
How about these: made and maid, or roam and Rome, or rhyme and rime?
Can you think of any?
I've always felt that I have a creative, open mind when writing, and try to think of the next sequence as I write. The first draft is just that. I figure to make corrections after I re-read the next day, but I have found that no matter how many times I read my own work, my mind doesn't allow me to see misused words or what would constitute a mistake. Therefore, I know that it takes an outside party to pick up on needed corrections.
I appreciate a good editor; someone, who can not only put the commas in the right place, but who is able to point out inconsistency or redundancy, and possibly advise on the story line, as well. Without a correction, at times, I could put out a story that would appear to be gibberish...and that would make me wince.