(The picture has nothing to do with what follows. It's just the latest of Sessha Batto's brilliant cover designs for my books - this one for the new Pfoxchase edition of The Darkness, which is available on Smashwords now. I'll write more about it soon.)
OK then, a little piece of anal retention this week. I’ve often spoken of how some writers don’t actually respect the tools of our trade. It’s OK to break grammatical and other linguistic rules AS LONG AS YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. But far too many stories, not to mention newspaper articles by people (and their sub-editors) who should definitely know better, are littered with careless errors. Most respectable agents and reviewers stress the need to make sure your copy’s been thoroughly checked before you submit it. Sending stuff that’s grammatically crude, mis-spelled and the rest is the equivalent of submitting a manuscript with coffee stains on every other page.
But some errors occur so frequently that they somehow go unnoticed. That’s why I’m offering this as a wee game. I wrote the next paragraph to illustrate some of them. As (or if) you read it, you’ll sense how ugly it is but, rather than analyse its style, I’m suggesting you identify the mistakes. There are at least 20 of them. I say ‘at least’ because typos have a way of creeping through so there may still be more than I realise. If so, my preaching is worthless and I’ll be hoist with my own petard. I’m not expecting you to write long comments about what you’ve found but it would be nice to know that you’ve had a look at it. If anyone’s interested, I’ll identify them in a future blog. (Who said I can’t do cliff-hangers?) So here it is.
Health issues in humans have always been compared with animals in the wild and the balance between activity and reward, in the way of nutrition, is a vital part of the equation. It was those factors that’s behind the establishment of the fitness and health survey of January 2011. As a consequence of collecting data from various social groups on their eating habits and the amount of exercise they do each week, and taking age and other fitness-related factors into account. Researchers got a clearer picture of the overall population’s general attitudes to health. Less people said they feel satisfied with their skill sets and general fitness levels. The amount of middle-aged women joining health clubs has almost doubled and much of the current research projects are showing unexpected results. There’s less obesity and less sweets and chocolates on the average shopping list. If we keep on seeing that much more changes are being made, we’ll all need to look again at what we mean by ‘normal’. The leader of the research team, not being really sure of how effective their results would be in persuading groups and individuals in all the towns which had taken part in the survey to change their eating habits, were ready to repeat the process across a wider area. Her team was preparing to send out the questionnaires and, indeed, were already drawing up lists of target groups. The person that represented their sponsors was satisfied that the findings of the researchers were more reliable indicators of the current state of affairs than the leader of the town council and the sponsors themselves were convinced that their products would soon eliminate variations in obesity levels, age-related survival rates and increasing the use of health facilities by a wider range of people. Speaking at the launch of the report, it was obvious that their financial director was prepared to invest even more in the project. ‘Between you and I,’ he told the team leader, ‘I think it’s fair to assume that your contract will certainly be extended for another year and perhaps even beyond that.’ However, none of the team were surprised by his words. They knew they’d done a good job. The general consensus of opinion was that thorough preparations, careful cross-checking, and a meticulous observation of research etiquette always leads to client satisfaction.
(God, that was awful.)
(God, that was awful.)