Thursday, May 24, 2012
I type fast.
And when I type fast, I make a LOT, and I mean a LOT, of mistakes in my writing.
My first drafts are horrendous.
The thing is, when we type, sometimes, at least for me, the story is going along in my head and sometimes my fingers just don't obey, and other times my head and my fingers get "off" on timing, so one of them ends up suffering.
Usually it's the typing.
But the same goes for reading too. When we are reading, most of us naturally skim the page. It's why we can read those crazy should-be unreadable Facebook status's that say something in seeming jiberish but most people can actually understand what it's saying.
If we skip a word in typing, or even type the wrong word, when we read to edit, it is easy for our mind to compensate for it.
Especially when they are words we are familiar with because we wrote them!
I recently turned in my proofing edits to my publisher for Sandwich, with a Side of Romance. The amount of errors in typing was, to be quite honest, embarrassing. I have to remind myself that it's the very reason we HAVE proofing edits.
But when we are unpublished, we also want to set our best foot forward and send in as polished a manuscript as we can.
So what steps can we take to accomplish that?
A few tips I used during my recent edits:
Tighter is Better
I'm the queen of adding fun extra words and prepositional phrases. In these proofing edits, I can't tell you how many words I put the little "delete" curly cue over that in previous versions sounded absolutely perfect.
When in doubt, read the paragraph without the questionable word/phrase. Does it still work and not take away from anything? Then delete that puppy!
Search for "bad" words
No, I don't mean cuss words. I write Christian fiction anyway... :-)
When you are doing edits electronically (which, personally, I always do BEFORE I print out my manuscript) I do a search for common words that are sometimes no-no's. Like the word JUST, or WAS, or a variety of -ly words. I don't delete them all, but making myself justify each of them and cut as many as I could was a super good exercise.
BEWARE of the dreaded compound
Another common error I found involved---
- hyphenating two words together in error
- separating two words together when really, they love each other, and want to get married and become one...
- putting two words together when really, they despise each other and just need their space.
Usually, #3 gets underlined as a wrong spelling. Yeah spell check. But I found that when in doubt on #2, put it together, and ask the divine spell check whether or not it would be a good pair. Think of this as an engagement. Same with #1... like a promise ring, "If we're meant to be together... we won't need this stupid hyphen!"
Then you have words like, ironically, spell check, where it seems that no one knows whether or not it needs a hyphen or two separate words... not even spell check can give me a firm answer! (It gives me the hyphenated version and the separated versions as options only... I foresee no wedding bells in its future!)
Other fun ones
We all have issues.
And we all have grammar issues that we just can't shake.
using the word "that" instead of "who" after a person...
Or using "towards" instead of "toward"
Or typing where instead of were (or a billion other same name, different spelling/meaning words)
Or using "you're" instead of "your"
Keep a list of your common mistakes that you find. Then in your proofing stage, use your lovely "find" feature to double check that you didn't goof up. Or at least keep your list handy as a reminder as you edit!
Editing in print IS better
I've tried to print out then edit before, and it just never worked for me well. This edit was different though. This was a "small" stuff edit. Changing wording in a sentence, noting typos, not big story changes like all my previous editing attempts.
You know how when you read a book you can spot ALL the itty bitty typos? I'm not sure I've read a book yet that I haven't spotted at least one. Seeing a book in print really can help you catch those little mistakes.
Make this your last step (although some print out earlier for the big edit too, which is fine, too) but make sure you print out AGAIN after you've made all your big edits to be able to get rid off all those!!
Discussion: What things do YOU look at while you are editing?
Bonus: How many errors can you find in this blog post????