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Proofreading

Editing, Featured, Proofreading, Writing, Writing Style

Close-Ups

March 27, 2017

Have you noticed how cat selfies are taking over social media? Most bloggers know that if we want more people reading our blogs, we throw in cat photos or videos. So, in a blatant attempt to engage a host of readers in this blog post, I’m leading off with a close-up of my kitty, Smokin’ Mocha Java. Gotta admit, I’m prejudiced, but then again, I’m her human.

Mocha is here for a reason. It’s to introduce a mundane, nerdy post about one of the things writers HATE to do. It might be the most hated task in writing and producing a book. That final read-through, when you’re as sick of the manuscript as you can be, when you couldn’t see a grammo or typo if it scratched you on the hand, when you know that every word is perfect–until you get the galleys back from the publisher. Every error screams, “What were you thinking? Are you nuts? You think this is ready for the public? Sheesh!”

That’s right, final edits and proofreading are the bugaboos of most writers, me included. I call this “close-up reading.” Let me share my routine, if you will. If you are bored, I’m down with that. Thanks for stopping by. Catch you later.

What, you’re still here? You want to share my pain? Terrific. Here’s what I do for the last polishing of the manuscript before it goes to print.

  • I read the manuscript through from beginning to end with no pen in hand. This let’s me escape into the story and characters. It also allows me to ignore said typos and grammos.
  • Next, I read every word, every sentence, to see if it belongs, to see if it advances the plot, to see if it develops the character. I look for words I overuse, like like, just, very, anything ending with ly. All get the knife.
  • I listen to the dreadful computer voice read the book to me. Windows Narrator lets you choose a lot of options, but it still. sounds. like. a. robot. Mr. Robot also points all missing your brain know are there. Oh, wait, that should read “all missing words your brain knows are there.”
  • I read from the last page to the first, from the last sentence on the bottom of the page to the top of the page, and right to left. Are you still with me? I cut a mask that exposes a single line of text, which forces me to look at every word OUT OF CONTEXT. By looking at each word in its own right, I produce the best copy I can.

Even with all this, typos slip in. I think they sneak into the manuscript between sending it to my publisher and my publisher sending it to the printer. No amount of pest control strips or sprays prevents at least on typo from living through to the printed page. No matter how closely writers edit, there’s always something that gets through the close-up review. It’s so mortifying.

Mocha wants the last word: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

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 Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story, “Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape,” in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.
Editing, Proofreading, Writing

Proofreading

April 5, 2010

Have I mentioned before how much I despise proofreading? It’s that necessary evil, the last step before I think “I’d done.” I can only proof for about an hour at a time, so I have to break up a manuscript into easier-to-swallow bites. (Or should it be easier-to-proof pages??)

Still, it has to be done, so I pulled out my red pens and my reading mask. No, not one that goes over my eyes (although . . .) but one that only exposes a single line of text. I read from bottom to top, right to left, word by word. It’s tedious but any wrong word, any grammo, any typo pop out.

At any rate, this weekend was warm and sunny, so proofing on the deck with water lapping on the dock was relaxing. Too relaxing, because I kept dozing off. Maybe it was the sun on my face. Maybe it was the droning of the carpenter bees looking for a spot to drill. Maybe it was the pfssst from the wasp spray on any bee with the audacity to land on our log home. Maybe it was the incredibly dull writing style. Whatever.

I can never tell my friend that her work put me to sleep. I think I go back and finish proofing my manuscript. I don’t fall asleep in it.

Would that the last two best sellers I read had editors who took the time to read thoroughly and make all the necessary changes. Sigh.

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