Sunday, 1 February 2015

I'm proofreading

I had a dream last night that the commissioned book I have just finished editing, went off to the printers and only then did I discover a whole rash of missing words. I woke up in a cold sweat, shook my husband awake, and declared, "I need to proofread!"
Lassie and Timmy
(before he fell down the
abandoned mint shift)

Proofreading. It’s what you do AFTER editing and BEFORE publication.  I’m talking Errors. Typos. Missed words. Misspellings. The little stuff the eye doesn't always see, especially if you’re gripped by the writing. Your writing. You get so engrossed with what’s about to happen when...

Timmy has fallen down the abandoned mine shaft,

that you forget to notice what you've actually written is...

Timmy has fallen down teh abandoned mint shift.

There is some comfort in knowing that there are always errors, (even in the best books, published by the best publishers), but it’s still annoying when these little babies reach out and grab you by the throat, AFTER publication. 

So, TOP TIP #1 - read your work backwards. Not, like, sdrawkcab… but last chapter (or paragraph) first, then the penultimate chapter and so on, through to chapter one. It does help.

TOP TIP #2 - read your text aloud. What the eye dosen't see, the ear can hear. It's much harder to miss things when you read aloud.

TOP TIP #3 - keep a checklist of mistakes you repeatedly make. I have a friend who often types CLAM instead of CALM. One of my own mental blocks is FRO instead of FOR. Anytime you notice your own repeat offenders, add them to your list. You can do a search (Ctrl + F) of your manuscript and replace these nasties wherever they appear.

TOP TIP #4 - don’t just proofread on screen; print out your text and review it on paper. Reading your work in a different format might highlight different errors.

TOP TIP #5 - use the spellchecker. Seriously. It’s not fool proof, but if you do see a red line under a word, you can’t afford to ignore it.

Top tip #6 - have a holiday from your work. Doesn't have to be a fortnight in the Bahamas, but a few hours or days away from your writing will give you fresh eyes and a fresh chance to see any problems.

TOP TIP #7 - get help. Ask a friend or pay a professional. And remember to be grateful when they point out all your mistakes. You want your work to be the best it can be, and a good clean copy might make the difference between getting read and getting binned.

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