Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Brief Note on Spelling

Those of you who are attuned to such things may notice variations in my spelling between my first book, The Ghost Man, and my second, Blood Passage. You may also notice variations from post to post in this blog.

I can explain. Really, I can.

I belong to the generation that was educated in British spelling with no tolerance for American variants but ultimately found its way to what can legitimately be called Canadian spelling, which contains elements of both (see Lynn Quitman Troyka, Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers, 3rd Canadian edition, p. 398 for confirmation that there is such a thing). In normal writing I preserve the "u" in colour, favour, and humour, spell "cheque" with a "que," and enjoy seeing "theatre" end with an "re."

The Ghost Man is set in eastern Ontario, and I tried to stick faithfully to Canadian spelling throughout. By the way, if you find a flat-out Americanism in it, point it out to me and I'll award you a prize. I'll think of something appropriate! (Only one prize per boo boo, though, so get there first!)

However, Blood Passage is set in Maryland, and in the spirit of establishing a convincing atmosphere I chose to use American spelling throughout. This switch wasn't as easy as it sounds, because habits can be very deeply engrained, and as a former editor I took it as a point of pride to favour the "u" at all times. So I really had to pay attention as I was rewriting and rereading, but I had Microsoft Word on my side because its automatic spell-checking thingie was set to American English and it red-lined any Brit-flavoured variations. It's possible, though, that something non-American got through. If you spot a non-American spelling in Blood Passage, point it out to me and I'll also award you a prize (same conditions as above).

I've been having problems in this blog, though, and I admit to you straight out I'm back and forth like the weathervane on the barn roof. In posts where I'm discussing Blood Passage I have sometimes written with American spelling, trying to stay in character, as it were, and in other posts I've reverted to my more natural Canadian spelling.

So I put it to you: which would you prefer to see?

Let me know what you think!

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