A few weeks ago my young adult son finished reading a book by one of his favorite authors. I asked him what he thought of the book. He said it was a great story but…he was shocked to find a spelling mistake in the book!
I was intrigued by my son’s comment because I’ve enjoyed reading books by this award winning author who is an excellent writer.
We all know how easy it is for typos to slip through the editing and proofreading process despite our best efforts to catch them. When I’m absorbed in reading a story, I’ll often miss seeing obvious typos because I’m too busy enjoying the story to care about the occasional typo or unfamiliar word.
This is the phrase that tripped up my son:
“he proffered the shovel”
My son thought the correct word was offered instead of proffered. He didn’t know that proffered was a real word and assumed it was a spelling mistake.
We looked up a dictionary definition of proffer:
“hold out or put forward [something] to someone for acceptance.”
The phrase in the book is grammatically correct, but possibly not the best word choice. If my son falls within the target audience of readers for this particular book, then a different word choice might be a better option.
Being an Australian author, I’m often pondering the wisdom of various word choices. The wrong word could accidentally upset or offend my readers, depending on where they live.
For example, the following sentence makes perfect sense to US readers.
“She slipped on her flip flops and walked along the beach.”
In Australia we call flip flops thongs, which translates to:
“She slipped on her thongs and walked along the beach.”
If I included the above sentence in one of my CCR books, my Aussie readers would nod and keep reading. In contrast, my American readers would likely have a different reaction and question if this sentence belonged in a CCR book!
My critique partners pick up the writerly words that don’t fit the flow of the story. Beta readers who live in the US will identify the Aussie words and phrases that don’t translate in an American context.
My questions for you: Do you like reading new-to-you words and discovering their meaning? Do you get frustrated by too many unfamiliar words that distract you from the story? Or, are you a fence sitter on this issue and don’t care either way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’m giving away a $10 Amazon US gift card to a reader who comments on this post. The giveaway will close on Monday, August 31, and the winner will be announced in the following Sunday Edition.