- About The Writing Of These Books -

   Part 2

  As the final draft of each chapter neared completion, a growing concern of the TTSM team was the common issue of publishers’ editors introducing errors in rewriting complicated technical subjects. For this reason, it was decided that the final editing and proofreading of TTSM would be done entirely “in house.” Art Braunschweiger: “This is a highly technical work. We wanted to make sure that the meaning of a term or phrase wouldn’t be inadvertently changed through a ‘correction’ by a well-meaning proofreader who wasn’t familiar with period shipbuilding terms. We emphatically told the publisher that we did not want so much as a single comma changed in the text, and that we would assume the responsibility for presenting him with a fully proofread text to work with.”

  In writing TTSM, absolute accuracy was a paramount goal. Meeting this goal demanded that nothing be published as fact without the evidence to back it up. From the beginning, a common agreement among all the authors was that no information should be misrepresented. Bruce: “A lot of things aren’t known for certain, because only a fraction of H&W’s plans and specs are still in existence. There’s a big difference between something that is not known for certain, but is widely supported by other information, versus something that there’s limited evidence for and is largely speculative. We made sure not to over-report anything - if there’s no real evidence for something we say so in the book. There’s way too much misinformation out there perpetuated by authors who just repeat ‘facts’ printed in other sources.” In many cases, the question “do we know this for certain” led one of the authors back to one or more original documents or photos to re­-examine the evidence more then once. Bruce: “We have read the period British publications on and from Harland & Wolff. We know how H&W thought and designed their ships. With this information, we were able to fill in the gaps with period shipbuilding practice, filtering out that which would not have been pertinent to Olympic, Titanic and H&W. Thankfully we have Scott Andrews, who truly understands H&W and Belfast shipbuilding.”
The demand for specific information meant that the authors and editor had to dig deep into plans, material lists and drawing office notes. (Three or more sources were routinely used for much of the technical data such as rivet sizes.) Much of this work was hampered by the fact that only a limited amount of technical and photographic documentation survives from Titanic’s builder and had to be gleaned from other sources such as manufacturer’s records. The book’s largest technically oriented chapter, Propelling Machinery, evolved and expanded over a three-year period due to additional source -

J. & C. McCutcheon Collection
A Period Advertisement For
The White Star Lines new ships Olympic and Titanic.

material that kept coming in. Even the non-technical subjects often required a considerable amount of research: the section on Titanic’s flags, for example, is the result of a three-month research project that required information from flag experts, period references, and archival information from sources around the world.

  Specific, accurate information was not enough. Everything had to be written so that it was absolutely clear and unambiguous. Much of the text had to go through numerous rewrites to improve the explanation of various subjects and to ensure that nothing was left out. There was also the challenge of writing for a broad spectrum of readers. Art: “many readers of this book will be mainstream Titanic fans who know little of nautical terminology but who want to learn more about the ship. This book has to satisfy their thirst for knowledge without leaving them frustrated over not understanding what they’re reading. At the same time, you’ll have people reading the book who are very familiar with ships, ship construction and Titanic in particular and who want very in-depth knowledge, and we didn’t want to leave anything out or oversimplify what they’d be reading. The book has to satisfy readers at all levels, and it has to be an interesting read.”

Daniel Klistorner
Seen here is a small section of Titanic’s B Deck plan showing the styles of the various suites and special staterooms. Daniel Klistorner

  In a very real sense, the ability to transmit information and images via email is what made TTSM a reality. With one author residing in Australia, two authors and the editor in the United States and countless experts and contributors spanning the globe, the information exchange necessary to write TTSM could not have been accomplished any other way. Art: “There were numerous times when I’d send some text to Daniel in Australia for review and, he’d send it back to me an hour later. Same thing for photos or even a document scan - if I needed something, I could get it right away from someone on the other side of the world.”

In many different subject areas, the authors’ research uncovered information that resulted in new discoveries about Titanic. Bruce Beveridge: “TTSM breaks a lot of new ground. We’ve got information that no one else has ever touched on, and we’ve disproved a lot of long-held beliefs. For example, everyone assumes that the large B Deck staterooms were all decorated in a period style. Not only did Daniel Klistorner prove that they weren’t, but he ‘cracked the code’ of their layout and determined the style in which every single room was decorated and furnished.”

  The writing of this book raised some unique questions that had to be answered. One issue that came up early on was that of British versus American English. The principle author is American, but Titanic was a British ship, and most period references were written in British English. Should “draughtsman” or “draftsman” be used in the text? “Colour” or “color”? In the end, it was decided that American English would be used, except with regard to workers’ titles at Harland & Wolff and terms used on the ship itself. (Curiously enough, however, the American term “elevator” was used on Titanic’s original plans and period write-ups rather than the British term “lift.”) There was also the question of terminology. Author Scott Andrews: “Many technical shipbuilding terms were written differently in 1912, and In many cases there was no standard at all - should we use ‘Wheel House’ or ‘Wheelhouse,’ for example? And some terms - ‘stokehold,’ ‘boiler room’ and ‘firing aisle,’ for example - are frequently used interchangeably, but don’t mean exactly the same thing. This applies especially to the subjects dealing with the engineering aspects of the ship. We’ve been very careful throughout to be absolutely accurate in our terminology - and to educate the reader as to their meanings.”

  Where possible, the authors and editor used period terms, and in the case where more than one term was in use interchangeably, the one most frequently used by Harland & Wolff, or what appeared on Olympic or Titanic’s plans was chosen. Even so, dual terms and designations were often used. Scott: “Long before Titanic, shipbuilders and naval architects were using the terms ‘Bridge Deck,’ ‘Shelter Deck,’ ‘Saloon Deck,’ etc. White Star, on the other hand, used ‘B Deck,’ ‘C Deck,’ ‘D Deck’ for convenience of the passengers and many of the crew. Both are correct, and we would be doing the reader a disservice by opting for one over the other.” (In the end, it was decided to use a dual designation for the decks in the form “Bridge Deck (B).”)

Another question raised was how to refer to the ship itself. Should it be “the Titanic” or just “Titanic”? Historical references appeared to be equally divided between the two forms. For the book, it was decided that Titanic (and her sisters) would be named without the definitive article preceding the name. Given the level of familiarity with the ship that the reader would gain through the book, it was felt that it would be more appropriate to be somewhat less formal and refer to the ship simply as “Titanic.”

atb-03.jpg (71660 bytes)

“Old Dutch” style staterooms aboard Olympic - comparable to Titanic’s C 72.

J. & C. McCutcheon Collection

Artists period impression of Olympic / Titanic's
Forward Grand Staircase.

  For TTSM, the editor’s job involved more than proofreading. Editor Art Braunschweiger worked very closely with the authors in the end stages of the writing, often recommending revisions to wholesale areas of text in order to better present the information. Bruce: “Art’s involvement as editor took this book to a whole new level. Art was very critical at times and insisted on a lot of rewrites, but the results were worth it.”
The authors recognize that as time passes, new information and research may come to light. Bruce: “A lot of what we know about Titanic is based on Olympic, and the huge amount of wreck footage that’s come out in recent years has told us a lot about both ships that we didn’t know before. We could spot something in a photograph tomorrow that might change what we know. In fact, if someone does discover something, we hope they come forward so we can incorporate it in a future edition.”

Last Updated: Jan. 29, 2008

Titanic The Ship Magnificent Copyright © 2008 Beveridge, Andrews, Hall, Klistorner and Braunschweiger