Monday, April 11, 2011

Editing UK to US

First, we have a winner! Congratulations, Shazjera, you've won Christina Courtaney's book! Please drop the minxes a line on the contact link at the side with your address, and we'll forward it to Christina so she can send you her book.

Secondly - my favorite, Bill from True Blood (AKA Stephen) is not getting votes (except mine) doesn't anyone else love him? Is it just me and Sookie?

Lastly, here's today's blog post.
Every publisher has their own ‘house style’ and every editor has their own way of doing things, and as I’m just starting into an edit of my new book, Love On The Vine, I thought it might be useful to look at some of the differences between UK and US editing.

If you are selling to an American company, it’s well worth making sure that not only do you use American words, but also that you don’t get tripped up by writing UK English in general.
There’s the obvious things. Like bonnet/hood of cars, boot/trunk, etc.
And the different ways of spelling, which can be sorted by changing your word processor to US spelling, rather than UK spelling.
But there are other differences, that you need to be aware of.
In one of my books, I had a character (Irish characters, in Ireland, but the manuscript was going to an American publisher) taking something out of a hot press. (Which is what you’d call it if you lived in Ireland). I cleverly (or so I thought) changed it to airing cupboard, only to be asked “what’s this? Do you mean a linen cupboard?” Likewise a cafetiere, which got raised eyebrows in America (I changed it to coffee machine, then filed the correct Americanism which I later saw on Grey’s Anatomy, a French press.)
I always have people going towards, which of course, doesn’t work in US, as it is toward. Often I have to change forwards to forward too.
One of the big ones is the use of ‘that’. A standard sentence like:
‘He thought that she looked terrible, with her hair hanging over her eyes like a drowned rat.’
I’d have to change to:
‘He thought she looked terrible,….’
Of course, if I was doing it right, the ‘He thought’ would have to go too, as it’s an author intrusion, and that would be the case for both UK or US.
My American publisher advise searching for all occurrences of ‘that’ in your MS and removing 95% of them.
There are plenty more – what things have you had to change to sub to a publisher in another country?


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

'That' was very interesting, Sally!

Please start writing Editing UK To US The Easy Way immediately - I'll buy it! And then you could do it the other way round and double your money. Smashing! They wouldn't say that in the US though would they? What would they say instead, I wonder?

Sally Clements said...

Hmm, more research needed, I think! Maybe I'll stick smashing into my wip, and see what the ed changes it to... I'd actually be really interested to see what changes US writers make to sub to UK publishers... hope a US writer comments!
p.s. glad to see Bill picked up another vote, bet it was Sookie!