• D. Randall Faro

Triple-check

It pays for an author to ensure that the words say what the brain thinks.


The neighborhood in which I live circles a small lake. A short north-to-south section of the loop road is split by a grass-and-tree-lined median. Close to the north end of this divided portion, a side road to a cirque branches off to the east. To turn onto the cul-de-sac when approaching the divided section from the north, it saves time to drive the short distance on the east side of the division to reach the turnoff onto the side road . . .which means driving in the narrow oncoming traffic lane. It’s only about forty yards and there is generally very little traffic approaching from the south, so many people take the oncoming-vehicle lane to avoid going all the way around the lake to reach the turnoff from the south.


The homeowners association newsletter recently acknowledged this issue with the following notice: “Please stay on the correct side when driving down the split in the back of the neighborhood! It is dangerous and illegal.” The author of that cautionary counsel meant to say that it is dangerous and illegal to drive on the incorrect side of the split. But the wording indicates that the danger and illegality comes from staying on the correct side. Most people, I would guess, will ascertain the intent of the author. But the words do not say what the writer means.


Legion are the instances of writers stumbling into this literary hole. Which means: checking, double-checking, triple-checking any manuscript is essential to avoid this mistake. It is said that the three main tasks of an author are: revise, revise, and revise. Justifiably added to that could be: proofread, proofread, and proofread.


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