Friday, October 28, 2011

Things That Were and Now Are Not

I'm editing DELUSION now -- a romantic fantasy (or adventure fantasy, or historical fantasy) about two stage illusionist sisters in WWII London who flee the Blitz and discover a secret all-male college of real magicians in the countryside. I thought I'd occasionally post about some of my pet words or paragraphs that wind up on the cutting-room floor. (For some of the more risque examples, see this post.)

Today I cut the word CROCODILE. "She barreled past a crocodile of little boys who looked at her in thrilled amazement." Not the toothy reptile, but the line of small school children. Generally children in a crocodile walk two-by-two, with an adult fore and aft. Think Madeline and the twelve little girls in two straight lines.

My editor claimed -- no doubt correctly, because she has impeccable editorial judgement -- that hardly anyone alive today knows what a crocodile is, and I happily agreed to take it out and substitute the word "line." (Well, not entirely happily. To be perfectly frank there is still a small part of me that wants all my manuscripts to be 300,000 words, and filled with as much arcana as possible. But still, pretty happy, in the grand scheme of things.)

But I'd love to know... did you know the term? Would you balk mid-narrative if you read it?


1 comment:

Mirka Breen said...

I don’t know if hardly anyone alive today knows this meaning of ‘crocodile’, but from my own example, your editor is spot-on. I just learned something from your post. Now I’ll test it on my unsuspecting YAs at home. Hope we survive.