It’s useful advice, so use it

I started buying books on writing decades ago, hoping to get some insight into this mysterious field of writing. I attend workshops and read writing columns and blogs. I subscribe to  writers’ magazines.  I belong to writers’ groups.  Some bits of information stay in my mind, some slide into the dark recesses of my memory to be pulled out during a crisis (the light-bulb moment),  and some I ignore — to  my peril.

One piece of advice I read over and over again is to print out your manuscript to proof  it.

I didn’t think this was necessary. Being a frugal type, I didn’t want to spend money on a pack of paper and a black ink cartridge for something I’d end up tossing anyway.

But a friend wanted to read the story and her computer was down. I printed it out for her.

Since I had it printed out, I sat down and went over it.

What a difference!  Now, my editor friend had kindly proofed it and found dozens of typos and raised a few questions. I thought, after making all the corrections and changes, that the ms. was as perfect as it could possibly be.

Not so. You see, all the changes I made contained typos. I blame spell-check, which gave up trying to red- or green-line misspelling or questionable grammar halfway though my novel. I use sentence fragments because that’s how people really talk, and because — well, because I. Like. Them. Which infuriated spell-check, so it pouted and quit playing.

These typos, that I had not noticed on the screen, suddenly came to life, leaping off the page.

Not only that, but it is hard to sit and read a ms. on a computer screen, so  I’d go over a chapter or so, then quit and do something else, and come back later. Sometimes, if things got busy in my non-writing life, much later.

What I discovered by sitting down reading it from beginning to end, that there were places that made no sense, jumps in time that weren’t accounted for, and characters changing goals from one scene to the next without any plausible reason.

Major re-write going on now. (Note sentence fragment.)

From here on out, I will print out the novel and proof it one last time before sending it off. The price of paper and ink is worth it when you consider a seriously messed-up ms. is never going to get past that junior-junior acquisition editor.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashantay Peters
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:47:10

    My editor suggested I read from last page to first, a practice I pooh-poohed at first. Then I tried it and found all kinds of stuff, like repeated words and typos. Now I swear by the practice. I like fragments. Too.


  2. CristineGzr
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 15:13:09

    I don’t think there are enough ways to see your page, I’ll edit, print and edit, then when I read it aloud, I see more errors I missed! Also, have someone else read it aloud. I do them all, it amazes me every time I miss something right under my nose! Back in the day when we read DNA off of x-ray films, it took 2 people to enter base pairs into the computer –one to read aloud and the other to key in; and we read it at least twice, usually 3 times. Then we’d switch, so the reader became the one keying in data. You could always tell who would be spending the day doing this by the number of large Starbucks cups they’d bring into work with them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blue Ridge Vinlandia

The Wineries of the Applalacian Foothills

Summer in New Hampshire

NH - America's Vacationland

Mimosa Mornings Writers

Writers Wearing PJs, drinking coffee, dreaming mimosas

Jennie Spallone


Rurally Screwed

Jessie Knadler

The Dream Well

We believe time spent sleeping is time spent well!

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Folk Magic, Druidism, Heathenry, & Pagan Parenting


when life surprises you!

Farm to Table Asian Secrets

Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Pam Grout

#1 New York Times best-selling author

The Chocolate Box

Romance for Every Taste

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Book Ends and Odds

Mary Incontro blogs on books, pop culture, and criminal cases

Writer Unboxed

about the craft and business of fiction

Chick Lit Is Not Dead

Two girls who believe that books with high fashion and happy endings never go out of style

Angela Quarles

Witty, Charming, Captivating Fiction

%d bloggers like this: