Nitpicking Editing–Lunacy or Necessity?

Nitpicking or necessity?  When providing a comprehensive critique or when editing a draft, I commonly apologize to my clients when I discuss or revise something that I believe is likely going to be viewed as nitpicking lunacy.  However, if I didn’t consider the revision of value I certainly wouldn’t make the suggestion.  Anything committed to a written medium lasts to perpetuity.  Along these lines, but different for a reason I’ll point out, I recently read (and viewed) material that highlighted the “46 Movie Mistakes No One Ever Noticed.”

That’s not the exact title, but it’s close.  And it of course begs the question: “If no one ever noticed them, how are they substance for the article?”  We can ignore this as literary license.  But as I went through the group of miscues, it was obvious to me that other than a rather lengthy scene showing a well-known NYC skyscraper misplaced in the Cleveland skyline, most of the booboos occurred in material which might have been on the screen for a couple of seconds at most.

When I was a young boy, my mother bought me the book of the making of BEN HUR as a move.  One screen “still” showed a propane canister in the back of a chariot.  During the famous chariot race, a beautiful color shot has a fellow in a suit and tie leaning against a pillar and smoking a cigarette.  I found nothing out of the ordinary about this, as I assumed he smoked to relax during the heat of the action.   Just kidding.

While in the theater and watching this scene, is it realistic to believe that a single soul noticed that guy in the suit and tie?  The only way to discover this involved analyzing the frames one at a time.  Frankly, of the 46 mistakes that no one ever noticed, I didn’t see one of them that would’ve made me blink even once.  But authors don’t enjoy the same leeway.  What we write is theoretically extant forever.  And it’s why I’m discussing this now.

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