April 16, 2011

Musings

3 comments

I just read — and enjoyed — Christina Dodd’s blog post on her funniest mistakes. My personal favorite from her list:

In INTO THE SHADOW, my heroine stumbles onto the hero sitting in the Japanese garden. He jumps to his feet and says, “Is this your private place? Should I leave?” and she says, “No, it’s okay, my private place is big enough for the both of us.”

I can’t think of any doozies like that in my own writing. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t sold yet — I haven’t caught those big, hilarious mistakes. Maybe there are agents out there, reading something I wrote and laughing their @s$es off.

That’s a little sad, actually, because I get paid — not the big bucks, but a few bucks — to catch errors like that before they make it to print. Yep. You heard correctly: As a copy editor, I get paid to have a dirty mind.

It started in college. When we were putting together our “welcome back” issue of the Crescent, I remember much debate on correct wording for a headline on the new “No Parking” signs on campus.

It was 16 or more years ago, so I don’t recall exactly what we said, but discussion amongst us editors went something like this:

“You can’t say ‘erected.’ That’s dirty.”

“Well, ‘Mounted’ is out, too.”

Eventually, we settled on “posted.” But not before cracking many jokes about erecting and mounting various items. I believe that was the same issue for which our photographer snapped a picture of someone on the groundskeeping crew holding a hose in what appeared to be a compromising position.

Newsrooms actually provide great fodder for the dirty-minded. I’ll never forget a headline that ran in my old paper’s sports section: “Bigger balls don’t slow pros.” (The story had something to do with tennis players. I don’t know if the sports editor thought he was being clever or he just didn’t notice. Back then, I was just a reporter, and not privy to the ins and outs of headline writing.)

A few other funny headlines, intentional or not:

  • I remember thinking ‘Oh my God, it’s huge’ (on a story commemorating the anniversary of a giant tornado)
  • Lady Jacks off to good start (a college newspaper on their women’s basketball team, I believe. That one made Jay Leno’s show, if I remember right.)

If you’re on Facebook, check out “Overheard in the Newsroom.” There are some doozies sure to make you laugh.

Now it’s time to cough it up: Have you ever stumbled on a hilarious headline? Or a funny mistake in your own manuscript?

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