Friday Frivolity: How Many Hands?

Happy Friday, everyone!

It's been a crazy week but not without its entertainment. I hope the weekend is full of writing and reading for everyone keen to be doing either (or both)!

Today's little bit of frivolity: How many hands do you have?

I had a project where characters often grabbed things with their first hand and then their second hand: "With her second hand, she grabbed the mug."

As an avid fantasy and science fiction reader, I had to ask: "Does she have more than two hands?"

No, I wasn't being cheeky. I had to ask. This book, after all, did have an alien species that, after a lengthy world-building discussion with the author, had a few more limbs than an average human. The "she" mentioned above, however, was human and only had two hands.

For the author, the translation to "her other hand" or "free hand" just didn't cross her mind. Either mired in the physiology of her secondary, alien characters or just unaccustomed to writing "other hand," the whole novel used the words "second hand" for every reference of the character's other hand (which turned out to be a surprising amount of references in ~85,000 words).

Of course, we often say "secondhand store" or "I learned this secondhand." (Though it means something entirely different in those contexts.) We also say the "second hand of a clock." So, it wasn't that the author was wrong, but when your world has two-handed humans and six-handed aliens, maybe consider "one hand or the other hand" for your two-handed characters.

One of the many reasons why a second pair of eyes pays off.

#frivolity #writing #editing #Lachance

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