Monday, September 24, 2007

Proofreading: It's not just for Breakfast Anymore

As I usually do on my lunch break, I've been making the blog rounds, catching up on as many listed in my Google Reader as possible in too short a time. I just read three writing blogs in a row that contained punctuation or spelling errors: two by well-established authors, and one "industry." UGH! I know it may be "just be a blog," but if you're a multi-published writer, people are going to judge you by your writing, no matter what the format. There was one article on the industry blog that contained a paragraph with so many errors, I stopped reading before I got a brain cramp trying to figure out what she was saying. It was not the only paragraph with mistakes, as the one below will demonstrate:

It takes a certain amount of bravery to admit that your read or write romantic fiction. Immediately, the instinct to establish your literary cred kicks into gear... I never ceases to amaze me how many intelligent adults are willing to share their ignorance about something they don’t understand.

You don't have to be an English major or professional editor to catch the two errors in this paragraph. You wouldn't send a manuscript or article out without proofing it, why should an article posted online be any different? Practice, as they say, makes perfect, and blogging is an excellent way to hone your writing skills--provided you remember two important rules: PROOFREAD YOUR WRITING and DON'T RELY ON SPELL CHECK!

The paragraph I've singled out is a prime example of why you should not rely on spell check one hundred percent. Though it will help you find a great many errors, it does not always delineate between incorrect usage, nor will it notice an incorrect word choice/typo if the mistake results in a real word. To use this paragraph as an example, it will miss mistakes such as you/your, or "I" when you mean "it." While these mistakes may seem negligible, they can pull a reader right out of your story or article, and the one thing an author doesn't want to do is something that will lose a reader's attention.

Put it through spell check at least once, ask a friend to read it, then read it through again. If using Blogger, utilize the "preview" function; you'd be amazed at the number of errors found by doing so. Failing all else, print out your work and circle any mistakes. Do whatever it takes, so long as you re-read what you write before publishing it.

Again, always proofread your writing. It will make a world of difference in your writing and readership!


Peter said...

You are tough with us! I hope that you can somehow excuse mistakes made by non-native English speaking people? (In any case I must immediately buy the dicitionary I somtimes feel I desperately need - but don't have.)

I wonder what the written language will look like in a few decades. Today the young people have already a different simplified way of writing, when blogging, messaging...

Heather said...

Not to worry, peter: I give more leeway to those for whom English is a second or third language--though my Swedish, Norwegian and French friends often have better command of the English language than many born here in the U.S. But then, I always say I learned grammar not in English class, but French. ;)

Jana said...

I. Am so. Busted. LOL

I'm not a pubbed author or industry person though so I'll just continue to be lazy, 'kay? hehehehe

I know I let a lot of typos slip by because I don't proof much and some spelling errors because I don't always remember to do spell check on blogger. *shrugs* But again, I'm a mere common schmuck AND you probably get a giggle out of some of my mistakes anyway, right? :-D

Will try to do better, though. I promise. ;)

Heather said...

Jana~ know I live to pick on you, but only because you take it so well and can give as good as you take. And yes, some of your typos do crack me up. *G*