Dot the “i,” Cross the “t”: Proofreading your work

Entries have been coming in for the First Annual Victor Villaseñor First Sentence Contest.  (You may enter here http://zaraaltair.com/Home_Page.html through May 15).  We, the judges, are pleased with the diversity of entries.

Sprinkled among the entries are some typos—misspelled words, inaccurate spacing, missing letters and the like.  I am sure that all of these errors were unintentional; after all, they were contest entries.

These one-sentence examples illustrate how difficult it is for a writer to proofread his or her own work.  What we hear in our head is what we intended to write.  This can be very different from what is on the page.  So here are the steps, in order of progression, to give your story the professionalism it deserves.

First, do the spell check.

But the spell check will miss many inadvertent typos.  So next, read the work yourself, very carefully.  You will see the types of errors that spell check misses.

But don’t rely on your own reading.  You will miss a lot.  It’s just the way it is.  So, have at least three friends read your work.

Your rewrites are done. You’ve gone through the steps above.  Now it’s time to find an editor to help you with your story structure and progression.

There will be changes.  You will need to go through the steps several times.

The basic guideline:  Before your send your work anywhere, to anyone, make certain that you proofread for the small errors.

For more tips on preparing your manuscript professionally see http://storybodyguard.com/2010/02/04/whats-it-look-like

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