The Scent of Channel Number 5

Lately in online discussion groups I’ve been coming across the attitude that only the story counts, that a few errors more or less in a book make no difference. Perhaps. I’ve been told that there are three errors in Daughter Am I, three in More Deaths Than One, and one in A Spark of Heavenly Fire. Of those seven errors, two were the replacement of the letter el with the number one and one was the replacement of the number one with the letter el, so I don’t really count those, though apparently others do. Someday, perhaps, I will get them corrected. But that’s not the point of this little discussion. The point is that although errors are hard to eradicate completely, some errors do count.

I was reading a thriller the other day, one of those convoluted stories with a dozen endings as if the author couldn’t figure out which ending he wanted to use. There were three crimes, all dealing with the same group of people yet none of the crimes were related. One of the crimes was a kidnapping, and though I know who did the kidnapping, the story was so complicated I still don’t know who instigated it. Despite all the flaws of the book, the one thing that took me out of the story was a typo. The author tried to set the scene using smells — the aroma of an expensive cigar, the smell of leather chairs, the scent of Channel Number 5 lingering in the air.

Channel No. 5? Makes me wonder that smells like. The English Channel? Salty, perhaps a bit fishy, perhaps a tinge of pollution? Maybe it’s a clean scent — after all, what do I know about the English Channel. Or perhaps it’s the smell of a television channel, though I’m not sure what that would smell like. Or perhaps it’s the smell of a gutter or a conduit. Not quite the feeling he wanted to portray! And if I hadn’t been so taken with the idea of Channel Number 5, I might have learned who the kidnapper was.

7 Responses to “The Scent of Channel Number 5”

  1. Paul Nemeth Says:

    My wife and I read through my current novel “Cataclysm Children” several times between the two of us during editing. THEN, it was given to an editor, and then I convinced a couple of friends to read it when I was sick of doing so. There’s still three or four typos, one instance of the wrong name being used, and one unique flaw that I’m curious to see if anyone picks up on. Any work of art is going to be flawed…

  2. Dave Ebright Says:

    Saw your post title & thought … uh oh, Pat’s gotta typo, she’ll have a fit, then I had a fit laughin’ when I read the post. Sounds like there were lots of problems with the story, channel maybe being the least of them. There are 2 editing errors in my book (that I know of) – makes me nuts. Might be tough descibing smells without using similes, can’t think of more than a handful of times where I’ve even tried. ‘See you’ tonight at 9 on Gather. DE

  3. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    That’s so funny, at least to us. I’ll bet the author won’t laugh if/when it’s brought to his attention. I’m forever finding errors in things — they just jump out at me. One of my many jobs involved proofreading and I’ve never quite gotten over it. I remember reading in one of John Grisham’s books that someone’s mother was an eskimo born in an igloo in Newfoundland. Cracked me up, but also lowered my estimation of his researching abilities.

  4. knightofswords Says:

    I thought this was going to be a weird post about something fishy at a local TV station or programs now broadcasting in both high definition and scratch and sniff.

    I don’t count those ones and els either because in some typefaces they look the same; bad type design, in my view, for once you change the font the resolve into what they’re intended to be.


  5. joylene Says:

    Good post. I’m not telling how many typos they found in Dead Witness. Let’s just say that I’m thoroughly embarrassed and also grateful to all those readers who didn’t care.

  6. shanaya fastje Says:

    In my first people would point out a typo and i couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally i tried to tell myself it was because i was only eight when i wrote it, Now i have my third book out soon and i realize that i won’t worry about it anymore. To me now it says that good writers or no, it shouldn’t be what matters the most, i see it like a character in a person. I learned that all books have these characters and they are truly harmless and that the story or message is what people should point out. People should try just to be less to point this out and rather say about how they like or dislike the book. It is work to write a book and sometimes people do not realize this especially in my case and my age, but this just helps me to push harder next time. For me its all GOOD!


  7. Tamara Says:

    I don’t think Channel No.5 was the true intention. LOL.

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