Errors in novels

I suppose if I thought a little longer, I’d come up with a better title, but here goes anyway.

Do you find errors in novels annoying? I do. Maybe I’m just nitpicking, but here are a few recent examples.

A hard-boiled detective story set in 1949 California: describes a hasty departure from somewhere until he reached the Interstate. Interstates didn’t exist then. Freeways were even rare, then. And there weren’t any in the remote areas of San Bernardino County.

A novel set in 2001 Chicago. The detective packs her .358. Typo? Maybe. But later there is mention of it being a Smith & Wesson revolver, and then the protagonist puts on the safety. Revolvers don’t have a safety. But it gets worse. The detective has to fly to Ontario, Canada, so she puts the gun in her suitcase and checks her baggage. Oops. Nobody’s bringing a handgun into Canada!

I only get annoyed when it has to do with theology. :stuck_out_tongue:

Enjoying fiction requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief. In the case above, the reader is expected to allow for the existence of freeways in 1940s rural California, a S&W .358 revolver with a safety and a Canada that closely resembles the Wild West. :stuck_out_tongue:

Even the usually-brilliant Shakespeare had a few snafus. From memory he had a clock strike in his play about Julius Caesar (no clocks in caesar’s day) - and has Hamlet studying at Wittenberg, which was not founded until two centuries after the era in which the play is set.

But it usually doesn’t bother me - exceptions being any film in which Mary Queen of Scots has a Scottish accent. She was raised and educated in France from early childhood, and a lot of even her private letters to people in Scotland were in French. Her mother and most of her closest relatives were French. So she would’ve had a French accent.

I like catching errors in books, films and TV.:slight_smile:

I could show you vast swaths of Canada that resemble the wildwest!

But even up here we don’t have safetys on revolvers.:smiley:

How right you are. I cannot bear badly researched fiction or bad editing. Sloppiness doesn’t (in my opinion) deserve to be in print

I sympathize. Lawrence Saunders (the Deadlty Sin books) used to drive me crazy with that, his characters were always “Thumbing off the safety on the snub-nosed S&W .38.”


Srsly, guys, if you want to write about men with guns, go to a shooting range for a day and fire a few guns and handle them. I blame editors, as well.

A few? I thought the man spoke a different language! >_>

Yes, but like most young people, she would have in some ways ‘taken on’ an accent. When Mary returned to Scotland she was still relatively young and she spent what, 7 years on the throne in Scotland plus the remainder of her life in England surrounded by most Scots and English people.

It would be in Mary’s best interests to try to become as much "Scottish’ when she returned to Scotland as it was for her to become as much “French” as when she came to France. The countries did have quite the alliance so it wasn’t like Mary was ‘rejecting’ her French education.

In fact according to records of the time Mary did take a pride in being able to speak broad Scots and there are records of her words to others (including that gadfly, Knox).

Of course, Scots at that time (I’m not speaking of the Gaelic) would be similar in idiom to Northern English dialects.

Especially once Mary had turned 30 or so, and had been away from France for longer than she had actually lived there, it would not be surprising for her to speak with somewhat of a Scots accent, just as it would not be surprising for a woman today raised in Paris who moved to say Savannah Georgia for the next 20 years or so to speak with perhaps not a French accent but to sound more like a Georgian. However, IMO it would be more like Mary to speak with the kind of ‘unaccented’ language of most educated people of the time. She wouldn’t sound like a caricature of Rabbie Burrrrns; she would sound more like a BBC announcer whose family came from Edinburgh. . .the occasional flattening of a vowel, the cadence of a word. . .much as Elizabeth of England would sound more like Mary herself only with a more “London’ sound, a slightly different turn on a vowel, a different pitch, etc., and Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother of France, would not sound like a the French 'ooo eez zis” but more like an announcer on Quebec TV who spoke both French and English with equal ability. All of them would sound slightly different from the other, but also somewhat similar. The only way you might know that somebody was from Scotland would be their use of a particular Scottish word or a turn of phrase.

Mary left Scotland at the age of 7 and spent a good 12 or 13 years in France. Even before then, as I said, she was heavily under the influence of her French mother and relatives, rather than the family of her Scottish father who died when she was a matter of weeks old.

I know people of French origin - it is an incredibly difficult accent to get rid of even after a long time. I don’t doubt she learned to speak Scots - like many French people learn to speak English - but it doesn’t mean she lost her French accent in doing so, as the majority of them don’t lose theirs.

The evidence is that she retained a very strong preference for communicating in French where possible - ie where the person she was communicating with also knew French. She even did so in private letters to her Scottish lover Bothwell.

I don’t know whether Knox ever learned French, but as Mary’s foreignness was something he (and a lot of people) very much held against her, I doubt he would have stooped to speaking it with her. And I doubt, even if she did speak Scots, that she lost an iota of that veneer of Frenchness that caused her to be viewed as a foreigner.

They don’t bug me as much as grammar mistakes. In movies, OTOH, I rage when they insert something stupid – like in “Flightplan” when they have an international flight divert to Goose Bay, NL, and the investigation is done by the FBI with the RCMP relegated to checking baggage.

Didn’t you know that Canada is the 51st state? :hypno:

Would you know which are # 52 through 57???:):slight_smile:

I can’t remember what the book was,
but in a book review of a then current NYTimes bestseller,
the reviewer noted that a character in the book heard wolves howling in the distance.

The author threw this in for atmosphere,
but the character was in Connecticut !!!! :confused:

There had been no wolf sightings in Connecticut for over two centuries.
( at the time the book was being reveiwed )

a wolf was found in Western Massachusetts in 2008, the first in 160 years.

It would still be almost impossible for a wolf to survive in Connecticut. They must keep moving over huge distances every day to find food.

My husband stopped reading the “Left Behind” series (Lahaye/Jenkins) because in the first 30 pages, he discovered two errors about computers. He said these errors could have been prevented if the authors (who are bazillionaires now because of these novels) would have asked any high school kid.

I write novels, and I work hard to try to prevent errors.

What bothers me more is when the author makes a mistake about what he has said before.

A character is 50, then five years later he is 48. Or he was married, then he has never been married. Even when they buy their very first Tux, twice.

That type of mistake makes no sense to me. It is just remembering what you have already written.

Maybe the wolf didn’t realize he crossed the border into Connecticut. They are lousy at reading signs, I heard.


Yup. Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick Watson has a war wound which moves location once or twice during the course of the books.

That made me laugh! Not as much as ‘Elementary’ the new TV series which has transported Holmes to the US and turned Watson into Lucy Lui

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