1. koal4e
    Offline

    koal4e Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    1

    How to choose a proof reader

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by koal4e, Jun 2, 2012.

    How do you guys go about choosing a proof reader to check your work over once complete? Just wondering about the different methods in finding someone right to give unbiased feedback and also willing to spend the time doing so.
     
  2. GillySoose
    Offline

    GillySoose Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    1
    Somebody well-read and who is not afraid to critique your stuff. Luckily I have family who fit this description, perhaps you do too? Or maybe fellow writers you're friends with, who're in the same boat as you and want to exchange drafts?
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Find a mirror. Look into it.
     
  4. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I'm with Cogito. A writer should be able to proofread his own work.
     
  5. John Eff
    Offline

    John Eff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Norfolk, UK
    Should be able to, but it's not always the case. Because you as the author know what's coming there is a tendency to miss things as you skim-read. I've missed some absolute howlers which have been pointed out to me by someone who reads objectively, looking not only for typos but pace, flow, plot holes etc etc.

    A spellchecker will only tell you if words are spelled correctly, not whether they make sense. You need someone who'll give you honest feedback.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ditto cog and minstrel... if you need help proofing and editing/polishing your writing, then you're not ready to be submitting it...
     
  7. louis1
    Offline

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    7
    my mom, proofreads for grammar, and my brother proofreads for plot holes and boring parts.
    and I proofread myself for everything. but 3 heads is better than one.
     
  8. Luna13
    Offline

    Luna13 Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    The Desk Chair
    Just because you can proofread yourself doesn't mean you should. I am perfectly capable of checking my stories for grammatical errors, etc., but it's hard to proofread the plot yourself. In my case, I know the characters really well in my head, but often don't realize when I fail to explain what I know in my head on the paper. You need someone who has never read the story, so they have no background knowledge on anything about it.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Maybe the word you're looking for is more "test reader". I don't think of proofreading as being about plot or content, but instead purely about spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and I agree that the author should be doing that--partly because it's going to be many hours of very boring unpaid work for someone who doesn't do it professionally, so it's not reasonable to expect that anyone will do it.

    Similarly, I wouldn't expect anyone but the author to take detailed notes to catch plot holes - "You fired a bullet in Chapter One, two in Chapter Three, an one in Chapter Six, and the Whatsit Gun only holds four bullets, so he shouldn't have been able to shoot the killer bunny in Chapter Eight."

    Unless you're exchanging services with another author, so that you're both getting paid back for your boring, detailed work, I wouldn't expect a test reader to do actual proofreading.
     
  10. P R Crawford
    Offline

    P R Crawford Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Morocco
    koal4e is asking about a proofreader here, not an editor. Here's the general hierarchy of critical reading:

    • Proofreading: Checking for typos, spelling/punctuation errors, formatting mistakes, and other minor mechanical problems.
    • Copy editing: Correction of common errors (grammar, spelling, punctuation), incorrect usages, logic lapses, and continuity problems.
    • Line editing: Editing at the sentence level, focusing on paragraph and sentence structure, word use, dialogue rhythms, etc., with the aim of creating a smooth prose flow.
    • Content editing (also known as developmental or substantive editing): Focus is on structure, style, and content. The editor flags specific problems–structural difficulties, poor pacing, plot or thematic inconsistencies, stiff dialogue, undeveloped characters, stylistic troubles, flabby writing. The editor him/herself may rewrite the ms. to fix these problems, or may provide notations and detailed advice so the author can address them.
    • Manuscript assessment or critique: A broad overall assessment of your manuscript, pinpointing strengths and weaknesses. Specific problem areas may be flagged, and general suggestions for improvement may be made, but a critique won’t usually provide scene-by-scene advice on revision.

    I'm with Cogito et al that the first two are largely the responsibility of the professional writer. Line editing, too, is largely the writer's job, since it comprises much of the craft of putting words together well. If we rely on others to do these things for us, it means we're not really looking at our own work. It means we're being lazy...

    What we really need are good content editors and overall assessments. But even there, the writer needs to have already done a good deal of the preliminary footwork - otherwise what's there worth assessing?
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Even revising for content is the writer's job, and no one else's. This is where practicing critique really pays off. You give yourself some time to read with more objectivity, rather than when the ink is still wet. You read critically, looking at the work for ways that could be better expressed, for ambiguity, for all the things you have learned to ferret out in other people's writing. Forget you are reading your own writing. Tear it apart. Be utterly ruthless. If a scene serves no purpose, it goes with no regrets, no matter how beautiful it is.

    No one can do that better than the author. No one knows the purpose of every scene, every word choice, better than the author.

    Just as the author must learn to express his or her thoughts effectively, the author must learn to proofread and to edit for content. These are not optional skills. They are part of the job description.

    Practice them. Master them.
     
  12. cuetip29
    Offline

    cuetip29 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with cogito as far as practicing critiques...looking over someone elses work that you arent so invested in puts a little bit of distance and allows for true objectivity and, well, ruthlessness at times. Cirtiquing others has really helped me. When i first started, i would see a lot of things that i would consider bad writing/mistakes/poor sentence structure, etc. But then I realized i had missed the exact same mistakes in my own work...yikes. Being able to see it in other's work helps you recognize it in your own.

    However, i think there comes a time that you have to let someone else you trust read over it as well...even if its just for an overall impression of the work. For me, I pick someone that, 1. I trust to be honest with me, and, 2. I value their opinion and ability as a reader.
     
  13. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I never skim-read when I proof-read. In fact, I carefully read my stuff aloud, often even recording myself doing it. As for spellcheckers, I find them almost worse than useless. I have the complete Oxford English Dictionary as well as the Concise OED, which has the advantage of being installable on my hard drive so that I can click any word in any application (Word, this forum, anything else) and the definition pops up.
     
  14. koal4e
    Offline

    koal4e Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    1
    I was thinking more along the lines of proof reading my own work, but using a second opinion for missing things and also on descriptive/conversation flow. I am on my first book and wondered whether people use others to get that second opinion to help revisions.

    It seems that most people only proof read their own work and dont look at a second opinion, which interests me.
     
  15. P R Crawford
    Offline

    P R Crawford Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Morocco
    Cogito said:

    Absolutely true. When our manuscripts arrive at an editor's desk, they need to be in the best shape we are capable of putting them in. However, we aren't infallible - and that's why there are professional editors. Once they've identified a manuscript that fits the publisher's requirements, it may still undergo extensive content editing - often much to the chagrin of the writer...

    @koal4e

    By all means, at this point in your game, have others read your stuff before you consider submitting it. Seek out people who are willing to give detailed and knowledgeable critiques. (Warning: those are few and far between... :))

    A good bet is to present sections you feel you're having trouble with here on writingforums.com. You can also present a chapter by chapter outline of your story and we can do a overall assessment of its flow, etc.
     
  16. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I rely on myself for the proofreading, but I do have a betareader or whatever it's called who gives me feedback on my current novel. Most things she says I do take to heart and some I choose to keep as they are, becaue that is how i want them. It's been very helpful, because she not only points out things that need improvement but also which things that really work and that I have done well that I didn't even think of. I do the same for her, with her novel. We found each other on our writing-blogs.
     
  17. jwatson
    Offline

    jwatson Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    canada
    I guess I agree that you should proof read your own work.

    But at some point, when you feel like you've done as much as you can, and you think you have a final copy, it's not terrible to have someone read it before sending it off. A well-read friend is really all I can suggest. Or have someone in the academic world read the first couple K if they are willing.
     
  18. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    being 'in the academic world' is no guarantee someone will be at all helpful in properly assessing the quality of one's writing... not even if their niche there is in the field of literature...
     
  19. jwatson
    Offline

    jwatson Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    canada
    Well if one has a good relationship with a prof I don't think it would hurt to get their opinion. But hey, no one is a true guarantee to properly assess writing.
     
  20. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I can't tell you how many times I've heard of English or Literature teachers/professors advising students to do foolish things like "change all the saids to less repetitive verbs."

    A secondary goal of the Writing Workshop is for the writer to learn to examine every critique suggestion critically. Not all advice is good advice, even if the person giving the advice has the air of being knowledgeable.

    An English or Literature teacher is not necessarily an authority on writing for publication. Take ALL recommendations with a grain of salt.
     
  21. Amideus
    Offline

    Amideus New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I proofread everything I write myself, but I do have a good friend of mine also look at it for proofreading and for critique afterward. I find it helpful, but as Cogito and others have said, always examine every critique you receive, don't just automatically make changes based on a single person's opinion.
     
  22. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I don't think there's anything wrong with having betareaders or whatever you want to call them, after all getting feedback on what we write, and having someone pointing out the strenghts and weaknesses and suggest ways to improve is how we learn. As for grammar, spelling etc I believe those are more basic things we should be able to correct ourselves.
     
  23. margarathawkins
    Offline

    margarathawkins New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Your friends, the close ones are the best proof readers for you because they are the ones who prove to be excellent critics for you.
     
  24. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    not really, margarat...

    in fact, i always caution new writers to never let any friends, relatives, or anyone they're sleeping with read their work, as that usually results in getting too-kind-to-be-helpful praise, or inaccurate critique by those who aren't knowledgeable enough... and can often ruin a good relationship, to boot...
     
  25. margarathawkins
    Offline

    margarathawkins New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mammamaia, you might be right. But I feel that if you really have true friends, they won't let you down. As far as family members are concerned, they are the ones who can best teach you anything.
     

Share This Page