Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Harry or Ezra: The Problem of Minor Characters

I'm in the final stages of creating a new print edition for The Man from Shenandoah. As I was checking my personal copy of the first version for places I had marked that had errors of one type or another, such as a typographical error, misspelled word, point-of-view mistake, and the like, I came across a startling fact with vital importance to the story I'm writing now, but that's issue is for another post. The most important issue was a name that caught my eye, after I had created the portable document file (pdf) version to upload to CreateSpace. I stopped work as though I had been struck by lightning, and did not upload the pdf.

It was the name of a minor character. He'll never be a major character. He'll never have a book of his own. Why did his name strike me with such intensity that I put off the upload until I had a moment to do more research?

Because I was not sure if the name was correct.

You see, I remembered that I had changed it in the past. I knew at one point I had called him Ezra, if only on the character card bearing the names of his brothers and sisters. I had to be absolutely sure the name showing up in the new print edition of The Man from Shenandoah was the same name he'd carried in Spinster's Folly, or any other place he'd appeared in the "Owen Family Saga."

I've finished my research, and it shows that this young squirt carried the name "Harry" in Spinster's Folly as well as in the original print copy of The Man from Shenandoah. His name changed to Ezra in the ebook version, though.

[Marsha heaves a huge sigh]

I'll have to fix that sometime, but I won't rush right out and do it today. With a cast of hundreds of characters in "The Owen Family Saga," it's not a terribly important blemish, although it does raise a rash on my internal editor.

The upshot of this research expedition is that even minor characters can cause problems for a writer if the writer is inconsistent in keeping track of the masses. Harry Ezra Morgan, you're a snot-nosed little troublemaker!

Have you ever come across a name change in a novel as you're reading it? Did it irritate you, or spoil the story in your mind? Or were you compassionate and forgiving to the harried author?

Tell me what you think about typos and other errors in printed or electronic books. How do they color your reading experience?

Thank you!