1. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    If You had to give someone proof reading tips, what would they be?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by scribbledhopes, Apr 11, 2011.

    You’re in a room, you have an inspiring writer in front of you. They have solid ideas and a decent story flow, creative and hard working with a strong desire to write. They complain that they can write a good draft but get caught up and bogged down and overwhelmed in the proof reading.



    Their main complaints are..

    Because they are reading it over and over again, they find they go right past common mistakes they should be catching.

    They often second guess themselves and in attempt at fixing what they perceive might be a problem, ruin what was fine to begin with.

    After fixing errors, sometimes they feel the original way they had written the piece sounded stronger when read aloud.

    Sometimes they change too many things and lose a great paragraph to nit picking.

    Microsoft word is frustrating them, it offers poor grammar advice and keeps capitalizing words that shouldn’t be capitalized. They spend much of their time fixing these automated mistakes.

    They want their work to be error free. Perfection, so they can submit to a publisher, but find it near impossible to achieve.



    So there I am, hoping for your best advice. Did I mention I brought you a coffee to keep you in a good mood.


    What would be your pearls of wisdom be?
     
  2. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    *picks up cup of coffee with a thankful smile*

    SC, you need to take a breather. Seriously. Take a walk, go swim in a beautiful lake, or put some soothing music on. Writing is a very tricky task at times, but it doesn't have to be.

    First things first, just let yourself be free to write whatever you think needs to be written. Don't deal with Microsoft if it's that annoying. Just take a regular writing pad, a regular pen, and start by asking yourself questions. Any question that comes to mind and write down your answer. This will let you just think about that one question and not the whole other group of details pestering your brain but it will also make you write something that's real and not prone to erasing.

    And SC, you can't let your editor take over. I've been through the same thing numerous times. I wanted everything to be perfect the first time it came out. But 99% of the time it wasn't and that ultimately kept me from writing. And writing is what you want, right? Just calm yourself down enough that your editor can't poke itself into your thoughts. Once you've got that down, you'll be so free to write you'll never believe you were the way you were before.
     
  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    *picks up coffee* Mmmmm... just the way I like it. Thanks!!

    Hi there, Scribbledhopes :) Taylee is right, take a break for a bit. Walk away for a little while. Above all understand that a MS in the draft stages is a constantly evolving piece of art. It may end up being something you never intended or imagined it would be and getting hung up on one line or one paragraph is going to frustrate you. It may take 5 revisions, it may take 20 before an MS is perfect for you, and even then it probably won't be perfect to an agent or editor, so just do the best YOU can, make sure it's the cleanest and brightest and shiniest YOU can make it.

    If you are missing small errors because you have read it so often, have someone trusted with a good grasp of grammar and punctuation go over it for you if possible. It doesn't have to be anyone that's amazing, just someone who reads a lot and can spell and can point out the simple things that your brain is automatically correcting so you miss them.

    Microsoft Word has a nifty little option to click that says "ignore" then all those annoying lines go away when it's warning you of useless things that you actually WANT to be there. Use it. :D
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    not a coffee fan lol Some little things I find help:

    1) printing out and using a pen - first I read through it as a reader. Noting in a notebook anything that drags me out of the story. Then I start editing line by line.
    2) changing the font, the colour of background and font colour making it different from the one you wrote in
    3) Taking each paragraph/sometimes sentence out of the work and placing them in a different document, editing them then putting them back in.
    4) I start with page one everytime until I have done three goes over without needing to change anything. Then I do page two.
     
  5. barnz
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    barnz Member

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    I will take Elgaisma's coffee as I am a coffee fan!

    But I second her points, especially the first one. When I'm in a word processor, I'm in writing mode. Print it out, bust out the red pen, I find it gets me in proof reading mode much better.

    Also, try reading the work aloud. It sounds cheesy, but you'll catch a lot of the grammatical and spelling snafus if you do. Dialog especially comes together for me if I read it out loud, I find i can pick out the poor dialog better and work the flow to be more conversational in a way.
     
  6. Uhtred
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    Uhtred New Member

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    You sir are a god-send, I really fancied a coffee...

    Anyway, all of the comments above are great, in my opinion the printing out and going through with a red pen is very, very useful (I tend to do this after leaving it for about 2-4 weeks so that I can see if it makes sense), also, im very good friends with the librarians at my local library (one of them is a relation) and they are happy to read them, which is very helpful.
     
  7. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make sure you leave some time between each time you proof read it, at least a few days.

    Make sure you save new drafts/versions of the piece in a new document so you keep the original and other new versions of it.

    Microsoft Word isn't always right. I ignore their underlines etc. most of the time. If they have pointed out something, then go and check the problem from an established website or book. But, it is worth it to correct any spellings, sentence structures and any grammatical errors.


    It is impossible. No writing is perfect.

    Other more general advice is that I would print the piece out. I find it is a lot easier to find mistakes when I'm reading it on paper, rather than on screen. Also, get someone else to read it. Preferably someone who has a good grasp on English, but another pair of eyes on it will really help.
     
  8. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    Thanks everyone,

    I do appreciate the time and energy. Some great ideas, walking away is a great idea and printing it out really stick out as a common theme and many others.

    I have found reading some of the posted short stories and absorbing the constructive criticism very helpful, and of course posting and getting my own constructive feedback as well.

    These were the types of tips I needed, thank you... Dave..
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    work on a printout first... not just on the computer screen...
     
  10. clockwise
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    clockwise Member

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    Haha, I'm so bad with caffeine I'd probably just end up being a twitchy mess on you xD. But here are some tips from an amateur, if they sound any good to you:

    1. Try reading it backwards; not word-by-word, but sentence by sentence, seeing if everything makes sense without the context there. If you specifically want to check for spelling, though, word-by-word is good.

    2. No easy answer for when you've done too much editing... but if you're not sure about editing something, save the earlier version and work on the new one separately, so that way you can always go back to the original if you need to.

    3. I guess that depends on whether it's an error with the story itself or a grammatical error - if it's the former, you might want to keep the edit and rework the way it sounds, but if it's a grammatical error, you could probably go with what sounds better out loud. I don't think most publishers/editors would be too picky about good grammar if it makes your work sound worse.

    4. It's hard to know when to stop editing, and that's definitely not a question I can answer, but it's always good to take a step back and have a copy of the original around.

    5. I'm not sure about Windows, but I know Mac has a free program called TextEdit that comes with the computer - I've got Word, and I use that for all of my bigger projects, but TextEdit or some other free, simple writing software can be great if all of the corrections are getting to you. You can always copy and paste it all back into Word when the writing's done.

    6. I've dealt with perfectionism for a long time (still am, really xD; ). What helps me to get over it is that I've changed my goals, not to be perfect, but to be better than I was last time. Which, because I already went through all of the learning I had in the experience of when I was last writing, is almost impossible not to do unless I'm not really trying. If it's ready to be published, a publisher will pick it up; till then, I'm going to focus on writing as well as I can. And eating peanut butter, because I do love peanut butter.
     
  11. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    Coffee is the nectar of life (also how I got the "Joe" in my name)

    Some of the proofreading tips that helped me are:

    1) Reading it out loud
    - You've be surprised how many simple mistakes you'll find just by hearing what you're reading.

    2) Reading something else
    - When I'm too engrossed in my work, I start to develop an inherent bias. I'll say things like "yea that sounds good" or "no need to change that." My perspective is inherently flawed. Before working on my 3rd revision, I took a week and picked up an old favorite novel of mine re-read it just to take my mind off my own work and read something in the words of another.

    That's what has worked for me thus far.
     
  12. Mr. Blue Dot
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    Mr. Blue Dot Member

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    My coffee table is a literal java wasteland right now. But one more won't hurt.

    Seconded. I'm not exactly a grammar wiz, but you can really see whether a sentence flows or not when you actually hear it.

    Another thing you can do is read the story from end to beginning. Either do it sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph. When you aren't worried about the plot, you can find awkward sentences, and word choices easier.
     

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