Kathryn J. Bain
Can a misspelled word cause you to lose a book contract? Probably not. Can it lead to a lifetime of embarrassment? That would depend on the word and whether your book gets published.
I know an author of over twenty published books (she shall remain nameless) who sent her manuscript to be proofed by someone in the military. She had a scene where someone loses their leg in an explosion. Her expert is probably still laughing over the exploded IUD instead of IED. (That’s the difference between an intrauterine device verses and an improvised explosive devise). If the book had been published the way it was written, she would still be embarrassed today.
Another author had her hero arrive in the beginning of the book by way of helicopter and leave in a Jeep. To this day readers ask her about that. She tells them the “Jeep Fairy” put it there.
Could you laugh about this type of error? Getting your manuscript in the best possible shape before publication will keep you from having to find out. Proofreading is one of the things you can do to keep from having these embarrassing blunders. It keeps scenes tight and dialogue sharp. The following are several ways to proof your document to catch the most errors.
- Read your manuscript out loud. Redundant sounding words will stand out, along with too long of narrative, and problems with your dialogue.
- Use a critique group. You’ll be amazed how many errors you have in your manuscript when someone else proofs it for you. I have a habit of leaving out words. When I go back and reread my story, I know what belongs there, so I don’t always see something’s missing. Thankfully my critique group does.
- Use a reading software like NaturalReader to input your chapters and have them read back to you. It’s a good way to catch things you might have missed.
- Use Spell Check on your computer, but don’t rely on it solely. It doesn’t catch every misspelled word because the American language is weird. Do you want there, their, or they’re?
- Critique for others. You’ll see your mistakes in other writer’s works. The more your critique for other people, the better your writing will become.
The list above might not catch all your errors, but it will greatly improve your chances. By not carefully proofreading, you might get your readers laughing at your suspense book instead of having their hearts race. After all who wouldn’t laugh at a soldier losing a leg to an exploding birth control device?
Kathryn J. Bain
Breathless, now available
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