Thursday, June 13, 2013

I have PROOF!!

Well, actually I don't....and that is often a major problem.

I can't stress enough how important it is to PROOF your manuscript before you submit.  The hard part is that being so close to the work, it is easy to miss the simple errors like turned quotes or two periods or misspelled words that look similar to the original word, ie: 'maent' instead of 'meant' 

Your eyes see what you want them to see because you are focused on the more important things like POV and structure.  BUT, the editor's eyes are not.  Unfortunately, we pick up on the little things.

And just to be clear, I'm not talking about the occasional incident; we more than understand this can happen.  I'm talking about the multiple proofing misses that keep popping up where at least half should have been noticed if a solid proofing had been done--this is a case of NOT the more the merrier. 

A few tricks of the trade:

a) Have someone else read the story for you, giving them instructions to watch out for the simple fixes needed;

b) Change the font--a different font can trick your eyes to seeing things in a different light;

c) Read the story backwards--this takes the focus off the sequence and makes you look at each word and symbol separately;

d) Read the story out loud. Yes, the simple action of verbalizing the story can make a huge difference because your sensory perception is to visualize the word as well as pronounce it.  This is also good for listening for natural dialogue (when contractions should be used for instance) and flow of sentence structure.  If you stumble over words so will the editor, or if the dialogue sounds robotic, it will sound just as metalic to the editor.

So, give an editor PROOF that you are doing your homework and take a bit of extra time to make sure your best--and the right--words shine!



  1. Stacy-what would you say are the proofing errors most often missed by writers? Spelling? Chronology? Skipped words? Descriptions? In my very first published work, the hero was Trevor, in ch.1 & Terry in ch.4. 0uch! That was in the very early days of ebooks and while it was easily fixed, it had gone through several pairs of eyes without being caught. Embarrassing? Oh, yes......:-)

    1. Good question. Definately for older manuscripts that are reworked now that writers are more confident in their talent and have a few publications under their belt, the names are a biggy--often because they change them for one reason or another.

      In general, I would say there are three I most often see in quantity:
      1. typos--fingers flying too fast LOL and mixing up letters;
      2. turned quotes--Reversed quotes often happen when dialogue is ended with an mdash; and,
      3. double periods--sentences were revised and it is just an automatic reaction to hit the period again at the end.

  2. You can also use the voice feature in Word to have the computer read the story for you. It won't help you catch homonyms, but it will catch other typos and can help with other fixes.

    1. Now that is something I haven't tried, Charlotte, thanks.