As most of you know, I’m a freelance editor. One of the reasons I love the job is because I’m a perfectionist. My husband says I’m a natural at this job because I like to correct people. (Ha. Ha.) But, as most editors know, the job does come with its downsides, too.
For instance… I can’t read a novel without picking it apart. It’s hard to leave the job behind sometimes and just get into a well-written novel. To be honest, it’s hard for me to decide something is a “well-written” novel. I pick things apart so much that even the slightest little mistake can ruin a book for me. (Please also note that I’m a writer, too, so I know how hard it is to not have mistakes in your work… even with the best of editors.)
I’m reading a cute little historical, cowboy, romance kind of book right now. It’s okay… cowboy and romance are not really my cup of tea, to be honest, but it’s someone I know in a roundabout way, so I’m reading it. The story is decent, but, as with most romances, I can see where it’s going. (I like more intrigue.) I’m almost done with the novel and I’ve only found two glaring errors. Only two. Sadly, those errors are what stick with me…not the story. (Ask me about any book I’ve read, actually, and I’ll probably tell you the editing errors… not the plot.)
In one section of the historical cowboy book, the main character is on her horse and she has to pull up on the reins. The author has it written: “She reigned in her horse.” No, people. A king reigns. A horse has reins. (This is a common, sad to say, mistake among writers.)
Then last night I came across this sentence (written slightly different here to avoid issues with author): “He seemed to be acting tenderer toward her.” HUH? TENDERER? I was appalled. I couldn’t even believe this author’s editor would have let this pass! It should obviously be “more tender.”
In all fairness, I decided to look up this word on the Googles (as my husband likes to say). To my astonishment – I found it (but what can’t you find on Google?) I found one reference that said it was used most often around 1880-1885, which makes some sense for this historically-set novel. HOWEVER, when I researched it further this definition came up: a person or company that puts forward an estimate of cost. Well… that makes even more sense… but not in this context within this book.
I did also find, in some places, that “tenderer” is a comparative adjective of the word “tender.” Merriam Webster, the dictionary of standard in my opinion, does NOT list tenderer as a word… at all.
All this to say… I’m a thorough editor. And I’m always learning and expanding my knowledge. Although I saw this as “wrong,” I still took the time to look it up to make sure. Hey, I don’t know everything. (Don’t tell my husband.)
But, for the love of all things holy, don’t use tenderer in your novel. Or, if you do, tell me not to read it. And rein in your horses. Let God reign.
If you’d like me to be YOUR editor – go to my Contacts Page and send me a note!