Welcome to Writers Talkback. If you are a new user, your account will have to be approved manually to prevent spam. Please bear with us in the meantime

Editing query

I wrote:

'When she can't get fish heads she fetches little sprats from the lake and swats them down on top of the pastry.'

My editor doesn't understand 'swats them down' in that context. It's a phrase from my childhood. Is it local to me or would most people know what I mean?


  • I would read it to mean slaps them down. Not a  phrase I particularly know but it seems quite clear in meaning.
  • Swat, to me, means to hit something with a flat - erm, well - swatter :) As in, swatting a fly. So I have an image of her slapping sprats into the pastry with a swatter. 

  • edited February 2019
    I don't know if it's local to you, Ana, but I had no trouble understanding - and visualising - little sprats being swatted down on top of pastry using the flat of her hand like a fly swatter.

    p.s. I like it when writers use different verbs - it makes the writing more interesting and colourful. Don't let your editor make you change it!
  • I understand what you mean, though I suspect it is more an age thing than regional.
  • I understand it, although I'm finding it difficult to visualise. Swatting suggests swiping.
  • No problem with visualising. 
    However, I think of swatting as an airborne action, rather than a landing.
  • Thanks all. I shall report back to ed. May give her the option of 'slaps', since half of you have reservations.
  • Splat I'd use because it sounds more fishy and wet. Swat has an onomatopeaic sound which does not go with fish. But does go with a swatter swishing through the air.
  • Got to love all the qualities of words. I liked swat because the swatter is bitter, resentful and unhinged, and swat has an element of aggression. 
  • It's difficult to remove from the brain, the sound - simply because the word has been made around the sound. I'd say splat as an action or slap are aggressive. On the other hand I love your way of using words, on the whole, it's your strength, or one of them!
  • I see your editor's point. "Slap" would be the most intuitive verb for a mass audience. What was familiar to you may not be familiar to a mass readership. Having been edited myself, I see that your editor is subtly telling you "swat" doesn't work.
Sign In or Register to comment.