Where did that waiter come from? By Sheila Deeth

You know when you’re reading a passage of dialog, and the characters just got in the car so of course that’s where they are, except a waiter walks up to offer dessert… Or the author’s detailed every item in a woman’s purse, only to have her pull out a gun that missed the inventory… Or the school on the West side of the street suddenly appears on the East… or… etc… You know… those odd inconsistencies that an editor tries to eradicate before the book goes to print, and an author knows made perfect sense at the time…

Well, those same inconsistencies can drive a poor builder of flat pack furniture crazy. I’ve learned this to my cost, ’cause I’ve just been building cupboards, chests of drawers, and chairs for my son. Connect A to B using C, D, and E said the instructions. But a leftover item, labeled F, turned out to be essential. It was in the diagram, just not in the text. Then the writing demanded I attach drawer sliders with arrows pointing outwards. But one slider worked backwards and slid the wrong way. Tighten A, B and C, said the rules, and repeat. But why didn’t they tell me to leave the screws loose until I’d added D?

Ah, flat pack furniture is such fun. And so is editing. So next time you wonder where the waiter (and dessert) came from, pity the poor editor and author who forgot they’d removed the main course paragraph.

And yes please, I’ll have the chocolate mousse–I need it! But the furniture looks great.


Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Imaginary Numbers, coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under writing

4 responses to “Where did that waiter come from? By Sheila Deeth

  1. Nice little piece, Sheila. Speaking of flat pack furniture; IKEA furniture doesn’t come with any textual info – just pictures. I guess because they are a global enterprise, they don’t try to anticipate the language of every IKEA customer. Apparently a picture is worth a thousand words – in any language.

  2. I loved the Ikea instructions/pictures. If I hadn’t built some Ikea furniture at the start I would have been seriously lost with the rest of it. They even think of little details like which way something should point before you turn it.

  3. This kind of thing happened all the time when I was young (really young) and put together model ships and planes. Hmm, what’s this large, left over thing supposed to do?

    These days, so many of the instructions are written in a foreign language and then badly translated into English that even when everything’s there in the text, it really isn’t there in the text.

  4. I do pity the poor people who have to write the assembly directions for anything. It is much harder than people think! Glad everything came together in the end.

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