This week we’re talking about bloopers or other mistakes uncovered during the writing/rewriting/revising/editing/proofing process. My bloopers are pretty mundane things that tend to look like one of two situations –
Editor: Uh, this thing here doesn’t really make sense.
Me: Oh, that’s probably because it’s referencing something I cut earlier. Let’s cut this, too, just to be sure!
Me: This is a cool thing!
Me, after doing some actual research: Oh shit this cool thing doesn’t work like I wanted it to. But what if…
As far as I know (*fingers crossed, knock on wood, toss salt*) nothing egregious made it past the editing stage. That said, I did have one or two worldbuilding bloopers that turned into opportunities to better flesh out the world. One example of this was the use of wood in my initial drafts. Wood construction was everywhere – tables, doors, frames, beds, utensils, you name it.
But, uh, Ghadid is smack in the middle of a vast and sprawling desert, with nary a tree nor a bush in sight. Everything has to be either made in the city or imported on the backs of camels from far, far away. So where in the five hecks were they getting all that wood? Special wood-carrying caravans? I don’t think so.
Well first, I changed most of that wood to metal. Equally difficult to attain, at least metal lasts longer than wood and I could explain its presence from Ghadid’s construction centuries before. Plus, metal could be reshaped again and again and put to new uses as needed. Wood could only be whittled down or burnt.
Second – wood became a luxury item. Some homes in Ghadid do have wooden doors and some families do use wooden utensils, and that says a lot more about those homes and families than it did before. Wood becomes a marker for class and status. One character lives in a small home with a curtain instead of a door, but carries a wooden cane – that’s a statement in itself. Another home has a wooden door, but its worn out and its paint is long-faded; the door clearly hasn’t been cared for like it used to be, mirroring the family’s own fall in status. Other places have wood veneer across metal tables or doors – both pretending they’re something else.
That’s how one thing that could have easily become a mistake became something else entirely – a happy accident, instead.