The problem of the white fedora

Bit quiet around here as I plough through the copy edits on Empire State. These have a tight deadline, which means everything else – y’know, sleeping, seeing daylight, updating the blog – have to take second place.

The copy edits are both complex and fascinating, and as I mentioned on Twitter when I first saw them, I was rather impressed. There are fixes, big and small, as I expected, but the level of detail is, quite frankly, astounding. The tiniest little continuity flub is picked up… and these are often the most brain-twisting to fix.

So here’s an example – it’s not spoilery as such… or if it is, you really won’t know what the heck it’s referring to until you read the book. Rad’s hat, a nice white fedora, makes repeated appearances and disappearances throughout the story, some of which I didn’t even realise. Here’s the copyeditor’s report:

Rad filches Rex’s white hat, p. 197; loses that one (probably in boardroom); “wondered where his hat was”, p. 224. Can’t lose the borrowed hat again on p. 234.

“He missed his hat, badly.” p. 242.

Doesn’t know where hat is: pp. 34-35, 224, etc.

Leaves own hat when drinking at Jerry’s, p. 25, finds there, p. 42; left in lab, p. 140, returned by Byron, p. 143; drops fedora, p. 146, given gas mask, p. 149; realized his hat’s in NYC, p. 166 – is hatless until p. 197. Gets own hat back from Grieves, p. 266.

Rex lost his own, p. 9: “wondering where his hat was”; finds hat, p. 15: “damp but intact”; but no hat in ES, just “his bald head”, p. 83. Given white hat by Crater, p. 176.

Simple, right? On the basis of the above report, I’ve spent an entire hour tracing the passage of the hats and making the required fixes.

A writer’s life, eh?

  • “The Problem of the White Fedora” would make a swell short story title.

  • E. M. Edwards

    Personally, I think you should let the hats wander. Give them a life of their own. Strange, dimensional traveling headgear is what every speculative detective needs…

  • Copyeditors are awesome. I’m starting to wonder what mine will come up with…