Pet Peeves of a Pedant

Okay, I confess. I hate it when something is factually incorrect in a story or song. It just throws me out of the alternative world and drags me kicking and questioning into the mundane, and reaching for Google (other search engines are available).

I’ve recently been working on a short story for the Lesfic Eclectic Second Volume.  Worth checking out when it’s released, as it is a wonderful mix of fresh writing of wlw.

I based my story on the Big Island in Hawaii. Well, why not? I’ve been there a few times in the past and it really is as beautiful as it looks. It’s a shame we can’t go there at the moment, as it would have been ideal to visit again, for research purposes only, of course. It might have been difficult to claim against taxes though!

Anyway, to get into the mood and vibe of the place when I was writing, I would listen to a collection of Hawaiian songs on Spotify or YouTube.

One of my favourites is Pixar’s short film, Lava. There is nothing like a male falsetto voice singing with a ukulele. I realise that isn’t everyone’s cup of iced tea, but it definitely conjures up the warm breezes and lapping ocean for me.

Unfortunately, near the beginning on the soundtrack is the cry of a seagull.

Every time I hear it, I get thrown out of the song because you don’t get gulls in Hawaii.  I’m sure a few may have hitchhiked on a passing ship, but they don’t breed there. Another reason to love Hawaii, I guess. 

The trouble with being a pedant is I have this urge to go and doublecheck the facts. Sometimes I get drawn the rabbit hole and don’t return to the original story, which is a disaster for the writer.

So as authors it is essential we have editors or beta readers to sense check what’s been written. My daughter is like a bull dog at sniffing out inaccuracies, so I think of her as my alpha reader. Although we have had a few “intense discussions” about certain issues, but that’s another story.

Even with editors and beta readers, some items slip through, and I’ve come across a few other irritations that have thrown me out of what I was reading.

One was referring to pinot noir as being a white wine. The book is by one of my favourite authors, but it completely threw me out of the story and I had to go and doublecheck.  In case you are interested, although pinot noir is typically a red wine and the pinot grigio (or pinot gris) is white, it seems as though a few vineyards have been trying to produce a white pinot noir. Yes, I know, Captain Pedant.

Another I came across, which really goes against the grain for me, was referring to “the bottom line of the balance sheet”. As an accountant (read ‘pedant with numbers’) that made me suck in my teeth. The ‘bottom line’ refers to the profit and loss account not the balance sheet, which should always balance.

Are there pet hates you have that throw you out of the story?

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