Friday, November 21, 2014

A Thanksgiving Ms.tery

Happy Thanksgiving!  As we have in the past, Marissa and I will be out next week spending time with families and friends.  Hope you get an opportunity to do the same.

In the meantime, I wanted to divulge the solution to a little mystery that presented itself recently.  A sharp-eyed reader (bless you, my dear!) spotted a problem with my November release, The Bride Ship.  Every time the word Miss should have been used, the word Ms. was inserted instead.  Ms., while originally coined around the dawn of the twentieth century, did not come into favor until much later when it was championed as the most appropriate way to identify a woman regardless of her marital state.  While once it may have been used as the abbreviation for Mistress (as opposed to Master), it is now the female equivalent of Mr. 

No historical writer worth her salt would use it in a book set in 1866.  No historical editor with any sense would allow it.  So how did it appear in The Bride Ship?

Many hands touch a book before it is published, and the process varies from publishing house to publishing house.  In the process I’m most familiar with, writers submit a manuscript, which is edited by an editor looking at bigger picture items like plot, characters, and pacing.  Her job is to make that book as strong as possible.  A copyeditor then checks facts, word usage, and continuity.  Her job is to make the book as accurate as possible.  The writer revises based on comments, and everyone takes another look at it.  Finally, a proofreader goes through it to catch any possible typos or grammatical errors.  Her job is to make it as clean as possible. 

I approved a manuscript (ms) with Miss in it.  My editor approved a ms with Miss in it.  The copyeditor approved an ms with Miss in it.  The proofreader msapplied an obscure rule on titles to change every last instance of Miss to Ms.  It is a very clean ms, just not an entirely historically accurate one.

Ms.tery solved.


Lynn Lovegreen said...

I will overlook the Ms. part when I read it. In this day of autocorrect, things like this are bound to happen.

Happy Thanksgiving!:-)

Helena said...

How infuriating for you. I like your use of "misapplied"!

Helena said...

OK, spellchecker spoilt the last comment by automatically correcting the spelling of "msapplied". I stopped it this time.

Regina Scott said...

Thanks, Helena! If only spellchecker was as smart as we are. :-) Appreciate the comment!

Regina Scott said...

Thanks, Lynn! As Helena discovered, you are too right about the functioning of autocorrect. Thanks for commenting!

QNPoohBear said...

There are errors in Jane Austen's first edition novels too. That's too bad that such a glaring historical error occurred. I've noticed little things like that before and it bugs me when that happens when I know the author knows better. Let's hope it doesn't affect the readers' enjoyment of the story.