1. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    I'm a very bad proof reader!

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by G. Anderson, Oct 28, 2016.

    Hi All,

    I hope you are all well. I was wondering if everyone could provide some tips or insights that might help me with this problem:

    I am an awful proof reader! I cannot get around that. I write in English though English is not my native tongue but I have a native speaking editor for my longer works, so that is not my main concern right now.

    However, when I notice mistakes in my work they often tend to be typos or what I call 'careless' mistakes. But I never notice them all. One of the reasons for this could be that I have a bad eye sight but another, less easier fixed, issue could be that I just don't find details that important. I'm not a perfectionist, and I won't notice typos or careless mistakes in other people's work either.

    So at the moment, I just go over and over my work and find typos again and again, but is there any software/tip/insight on how to approve and hone your proof reading skills?

    Thanks!

    Best,
    G.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I think this is true for all of us - we all miss things, especially when we've written the text. Reading out loud helps me (I use a text-to-speech website because my throat gets sore: http://www.fromtexttospeech.com/) but I can never produce a totally clean manuscript by myself.

    You're self-publishing, right? I think all you can do is pay an editor for all your works, or find somebody to swap with... maybe they proof read your work if you beta read theirs, or something?
     
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @Tenderiser. This is an issue that plagues us all, regardless of our native tongue. I myself have a frustrating habit of having my fingers get ahead of my brain and I completely miss little words like of, on, to, in, the, at, etc. I also agree that reading out loud helps. It seems to engage another part of the brain that keeps us from glossing over the little things, and we trip on them, which is a good thing because obviously it means we have noticed what had gone unnoticed until then.
     
  4. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    Hi both of you,

    Thanks for your feedback! I have the problem with words like on, off, etc. too and my worst habit is switching the spelling of two similar words (even if they mean something completely different) like of/off or with/which. Or accidentally writing in past tense when writing in the present, or vice versa.

    I do work with an editor, but only for my longer works. I self-published one of my novellas because I was interesting in seeing the market and getting reader's responses.

    But I hadn't thought about reading the script out loud (which is ironic since I used to work as an actress). That's a great idea! I will try this now.

    Thank you!

    Best,
    G.
     
  5. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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    I miss a lot of typos on the screen, yet they leap out at me off the printed page. Weird, but it happens time and time again. I go through a piece several times, correcting typos, and when I'm satisfied I print it out, only to discover I've missed a few.

    Note to self: Must print my work out and proofread it before submitting electronically.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The best trick, I've found, is to raise your font size. A lot.

    If you are just proofreading for mistakes, and not editing for content, this works a treat. I normally write in either 12 or 14-point, but I proofread in a much bigger font ...26-point or something like that. It not only makes things like punctuation easier to spot, but it keeps my eye from running along too fast.

    If you have the facility on your computer to 'show invisibles' (in the View menu of my wordprocessor) then turn it on. That will show you things like how many spaces you've left between words, etc.

    Proofreading is actually quite easy to do once you get started, and the good thing is, you can walk away from it any time you start to get bored—if you're not being paid by the hour to do it, or working to a tight deadline. It's just a nitpicker job, and doesn't require any creativity. Come back to it later. Do 10 minutes of it per day, and you'll eventually get it all done.
     
  7. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    Hi,

    Thank you! Those are some really good advice! Unfortunately, my printer recently broke but I will definitely try increasing my font size! And yeah, I usually edit content and typos separately since if I don't, I just make even more typos! :)

    Thanks again!

    Best,
    G.
     
  8. Sal Boxford

    Sal Boxford Senior Member

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    Printing out also makes a difference. I have to proof stuff all the time at work and from day one they've drilled in to us never to proof on screen.
     
    jannert likes this.
  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    loose/lose and breathe/breath. Chronic mistakes.

    I think there are some good tricks mentioned above, and might add "reading backward" - read paragraphs or even sentences from the bottom of the page rather than the top so you don't get caught up in the story and have to focus on the words. Good tricks, but none of them replace an outside proofreader. You know your own work too well and you're too prone to see what you expect to see rather than what's there.

    Readers will notice. For all my lack of self-proofreading skills, I notice errors in the works of others much more readily and if I notice an issue when I'm reading sample pages, I won't buy the book. It's just too hard to get myself immersed in the story if I'm being jerked out of it all the time with wrong words. If there's no budget to pay a pro, trade with an amateur. But you'll almost certainly get better results from a pro.
     
    Catrin Lewis and Sal Boxford like this.
  10. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    Hi Again,

    Wow, thank you again for so much feedback and help! I am already using all of your tips on a novel that I am writing, and I have to say that it's going much better than usual. Not only does it seem that I notice more errors, I also have more fun doing it with these tricks!

    Best,
    G.
     

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