Editing, Editor, Fiction, Novel, Reader, Words, Writing

Word usage. Is it a regional thing?

In case you’re new here, I’ll explain that I’m doing a final polish of a novel. I’m down to rewording a sentence or two and some other nitpicky stuff.  One thing my editor marked in several places was an omission of a word. The pure typos I corrected immediately, but a few other sentences she flagged looked fine to me.

These debated instances are in narrative, but they reflect how I would speak those sentences. I’ve concluded that either my speech is eccentric, or the way I speak is a regional thing. And if it’s regional—how big a region does it encompass? As much as possible, I want to avoid causing a reader to stop, reread, and mentally rewrite. Obviously, the “missing” word stopped her. If it would stop the majority of you, dear readers, I want to change it.

Once again, I need your help.

In each sentence below, a word may be missing. I could make it easier by telling you the word she felt I omitted in these sentences, but what fun would that be? So, tell me, do these sentences read correctly to you, or did you feel the need to supply a missing word?

  1. She looked down at the album as if she needed a visual reminder who Stephen was.
  2. At the least, she owed her an explanation why she’d had to drive all the way over here.
  3. Though she knew it was irrational, she couldn’t still the fear that just outside those beams something huge and solid—a stalled semi, a mountain—waited for them to slam into at full force.

If you comment, please let me know where you grew up. That way maybe I can determine whether I’m just odd or a creature of culture. Well, I guess we already know I’m odd, but you know …

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33 thoughts on “Word usage. Is it a regional thing?”

  1. 1. I want ‘of’ (who Stephen was)
    2. ‘as to’ (why she’d had to drive..)
    3. Nothing – but I’ve no idea what a stalled semi might be so maybe there’s something missing there!

    I’m a native of Yorkshire, England and hopefully not carrying the weight of your entire potential UK readership here!


    1. Thanks, Suzanne. You’ll get “of” in 1, but you’ll also get it in 2, for this reason. I like to keep my narrative in line with my character, and Renee would never use “as to” in speech. As for 3 … thank you, you made me laugh. Would you get “stalled lorry”?


  2. I’m with Katherine completely. Two missing ‘of’s and a chunky third sentence.

    Go with what the editor says. If it was dialogue, fine, but for prose, just run with it. A good editor knows what they are talking about.


  3. Were the words (1) OF who Stephen, (2) explanation OF or FOR why, and (3) slam into IT? I grew up in Northern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan.

    Your missing those two prepositions and one pronoun could be caused by regional influences learned from the way people in your the region speak. Editors are supposed to protect literature form grammatical errors, so they are really picky, I suppose.

    I was curious to see the other comments. It seems that most agree on the location of the omission, but there are lots of different prepositions suggested for insertion. I don’t see everyone coming up with the pronoun IT. Maybe I was wrong. Ha! I hope you are going to tell us what the omitted words were supposed to be.


  4. 1. reminder [of] who

    2. explanation [of] why

    3. I’d rewrite the 3rd sentence. I’d probably ditch ‘Though she knew it was irrational,’ altogether and maybe change the end to ‘waited to slam into them at full force.’

    I grew up mostly in upstate NY, but I’m not so sure the regional thing matters much in narrative – though it certainly does in dialogue. In dialogue, you can get away with a lot of careless language and it actually sounds more natural. In narrative – not so much.


  5. Sorry, I’m late to the party.
    We’re pretty much in the same region. You, Linda, Central Cal, me, NorCal.
    In speech I wouldn’t notice the missing ‘ofs’, but I did while reading these.
    I stumbled over the third sentence a couple of times.
    Curious if you read my recent blog post. It’s about Digicon, an e-publishing online conference. It might be worth checking out. http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/showevent.php?eventid=748


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