there’s always one more thing to fix

It didn’t even occur to me that part of the American-ness of the copyediting for the Onyx Court books was the order of dates: August 26, when the British would be more likely to order it as 26 August.

But somebody pointed that out over on the BCS forums, so we’ve gone in and changed the ordering on the dates for “And Blow Them at the Moon.” My apologies for the error; we went with British spellings (everywhere we could spot them, anyway), but didn’t think to change the date formatting.

0 Responses to “there’s always one more thing to fix”

  1. la_marquise_de_

    I, of course, am all in favour of proper dates!

  2. lauren_leigh

    Oh, that was me who pointed it out. I noticed later on that you’d written “rumours” with a u so wasn’t sure if you’d been trying to do things the English way or not. Nowadays quite a lot of people do actually say it the American way though I guess back then they wouldn’t have done.

    • Marie Brennan

      My natural state is a completely inconsistent mix of the two, actually; I default to “rumour” but not “favourite,” for example. For the novels, my publishers correct it all to the American forms (siiiiiiiigh), but for the short story Scott Andrews and I took the chance to go with the much more story-appropriate British spellings. Thanks for pointing out the date thing, though; as I said over on the forums, it didn’t even occur to me to catch that in the copy-editing sweep. (I am definitely American, though I try as hard as I can not to let that slip through in my word choices and phrasings.)

  3. midnight_sidhe

    The date formatting might be more complicated than this. I’ve spent way too much time paying attention to minute details of pre-WWI British texts, and one thing that consistently surprises me is that the dates tend to be written month-day rather than day-month more often than not. It’s possible that this convention is of relatively recent origin.

    • Marie Brennan

      Could be — but if it’s going to throw a British reader out of the story to see it done in what we now think of as an American way, then I’d rather go with the modern British convention. (Just as I would with spelling, if I could convince my publishers — after all, premodern spelling is a wacky game of its own, not like we do it today, either.)

      • midnight_sidhe

        Do you find it difficult to balance authenticity with the expectations of the general populace and the need to keep them from falling out of the story? You take such care with your research; it seems as though this sort of thing must happen to you all the time with these books.

        (Just as I would with spelling, if I could convince my publishers — after all, premodern spelling is a wacky game of its own, not like we do it today, either.)

        That makes sense. We don’t have very good intuitions about it either, so even without the comprehensibility issues, it would be very difficult to pull off. Most stabs at mimicking earlier spelling conventions strike me as singularly inauthentic.

        • Marie Brennan

          Do you find it difficult to balance authenticity with the expectations of the general populace and the need to keep them from falling out of the story?

          Oh, definitely. It probably crops up the most in the case of past prejudices; I try to at least nod toward such things, since it doesn’t do justice to history to pretend the racism and sexism and anti-Semitism and such weren’t there, but I haven’t been able to bring myself (on a personal or practical level) to really dig into that as far as it should realistically go. Which might be a good thing, from the perspective of allowing my readers to enjoy the story.

          And then there’s the occasional point at which I put in something that I know is historically accurate, which will look wrong or made-up because it doesn’t match audience expectations. But mostly those things have slipped by without comment.

          As for spelling, I’ve really only played with it in a few limited instances. The epigraphs are all verbatim from period editions of the sources; so is the Monteagle Letter in “And Blow Them at the Moon;” and then in the contract we used as a promo material for Midnight, I went as hard-core Elizabethan as I could manage. But the rest of the time, no, it’s modern spelling all the way.

          • dr_whom

            And then there’s the occasional point at which I put in something that I know is historically accurate, which will look wrong or made-up because it doesn’t match audience expectations.

            Obligatory TVTropes link: Aluminum Christmas Trees.

    • shui_long

      Yes, C19 British practice seems to have been fairly consistently “August 27th, 2010”. I don’t know exactly when the British standard changed to “27 August 2010” (which would be the current correct practice), though I suspect it was in the last 50 years – and many would still write “27th August 2010” though this is discouraged by the style guides for publishing.
      An alternative (perhaps more common amongst academics) is the “27.viii.10” form, which I suspect goes back at least to the early C20. Hart’s Rules says this is also common in continental Europe.
      But apparently we’re all supposed to adopt the ISO standard, which is “2010-08-27” – this is already common use in Japan and China, and amongst those who speak electronic database…

      • Marie Brennan

        “August 27th, 2010” was the format I originally used in Midnight, but the CE removed the suffix from the numbers, and everything since then has been edited to the same pattern.

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