TK hotel

In journalism, there’s a space holder known as TK.

If you’re missing some information—someone’s name, a location, etc—you use TK as a temporary fill-in. For example: “Smith won the pole vault, just edging out Miller, who attended high school in TK, Georgia.” TK stands for “to come”—the K being used instead of C because the T and K side by side will is unusual and will always get caught by a spell check.

Back when I was a younger writer, I never used TK. Literally, never. I surely knew of its existence, but I was lazy, and disliked the idea of returning later to fill in a fact. I’d just write around the info; call a place “a hotel” instead of “the Holiday Inn”; say a guy is, simply, from Georgia, Town be damned.

At age 41, however, I’ve come to understand—and obsess over—the power of little details. It’s never merely a bottle of soda. It’s a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke, with a red label and little beads of water. It’s not just a house–it’s a English-styled cottage with white wood paneling and brownish-gray drapes. Little details show that a writer cares; that he took the time to not merely write, but report and dig and search. TKs now make up an enormous part of my professional life. Last night, for example, I sat at my laptop from 9:30 pm until 2:30 am filling in dozens of TKs into my next book. It’s no fun and sucky and mind-draining.

It’s also really important.

6 thoughts on “TK hotel”

  1. not every little detail is important. Some illuminate & provide valuable context & some destroy the flow of the words & take a reader out of the story.

  2. “Brownish gray”=taupe. If we’re going for precision. But mostly cause I can’t resist the human impulse to be a nudge when any piece of writing comes our in favor of persnickety-ness. I’m sure Mark Twain had a relevant quote about that sometime or other. TK.

  3. I must be a geek. Some of my favorite parts of writing my book was the research I enjoyed when seeking to fill in the TKs: what would have been served at a wedding in the new state of TN in 1830? Pemmican, possum and roasted chinka pin nuts? could a dying child have watched a mockingbird nurse a litter of children and see them fly off before dying? yes. Which flowers would have been in bloom when the ill fated lovers were allowed to take their goodbye walk through the fields around Cedar Creek? thistles and Queen Anne’s lace. The research is half the fun. But then I’m far past my early 40’s.

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