Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Calling a Spade a Spade
My copyeditor, Heidi, made a suggestion that has got me thinking. I have a character digging with something I refer to as a "round end shovel," the garden variety shovel that I used to call a spade until about ten years ago. My brother Mike also calls it a "round end shovel." Heidi suggested the more proper variant "round ended shovel," but that doesn't sound natural. So I've been going around asking everyone I run into what they call the shovel in question, and most of them call it a "spade." According to all dictionary and encyclopedic definitions, that is wrong. A spade is a flat-ended implement across the board, and then there is something called a "garden spade." The farm and garden stores here in Kalamazoo and on-line call the rounded shovel a "round point shovel." Here's the passage in question.
"He was standing in mud, resting, with both hands on his round-end shovel, when he saw the big orange snake, its body as thick as his step-son’s arms, folded on the rocks."
I have until Monday at noon to make this decision and all the rest, at which time I will send the manuscript back to my copyeditor, Heidi. My Darling Christopher says I'm overthinking it... but that is just the sort of gal I am. And now that I've pasted that sentence in, I'm wondering if there are altogether too many commas going on.