A Writer's Life

Adventures in Copyediting – Booze and Bullets

Two Gray Bullets by Alex Azabache

As I copyedit/rewrite a 103K-word, modern-day vampire novel, I’m pausing often to consider word usage.

The author is decidedly British, but wants this novel to be written in American English. He did a good job of writing American-style it for the most part.

The leftover telltale giveaways (in hospital, amongst, overegging the custard, pub, bloke, and manoeuvring, for example), were easily rooted out. Every time I encounter a Britishism, I use Word’s global Search and Replace function to find all instances of it throughout the manuscript. This has a cumulative effect, so the further I progress, the less Britishisms I need to deal with.

An Editor Walks Into a Bar…

Since our immortal protagonist owns a bar, a lot of the action takes place there. The bar lingo needed fine tuning to feel realistic, so off to Google I went. This page was of immense help, so I’ve bookmarked it in my “Editing Help” folder: Commercial Bar Layout Design: How to Keep Bartenders In Mind

That’s a Loaded Question

Everyone and their dog carries a gun in this story, so checking the spelling and usage of gun terminology is vital to avoid readers going ‘huh?’ and dropping out of the immersive reading state. I’ve shot a gun or two in my life but I am NO expert, and I don’t regularly engage in firearms conversation. So, as I questioned the use of ’round’ when I desperately wanted to used ‘bullet’ (because it’s silver!) this page helped me understand the nuances of those terms, and more. Why Are Bullets Also Known as Rounds? In the end, I stayed with round.


However, I raised a cynical eyebrow at the above-mentioned article’s explanation of the origins of the phrase ‘shot of whiskey’, especially since they led with “As the story goes…” So, I crawled a little further down the rabbit hole until I found this article which thoroughly rips that notion to shreds. ‘Old west’ whisky shot legend is not true A shame. I really wanted it to be true, as it makes a good little story on it’s own.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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