Can You Proofread to Perfection?

And should you try?

If you’re  submitting your manuscript to your agent, publisher, editor, or beta readers, absolutely. If you’re interested in the process  I use for this, click here.

But what if you’re proofreading your blog before posting?

Maybe you could give yourself a break. I think the occasional typo is okay. Usually a kind reader will point out an error, sometimes even via a private email. The beauty of the blog versus a novel: it’s easy to update after publication.

I usually thank the person who pointed out my error, update the blog immediately, and move on.

Four steps to get close to perfection:

  1. Read once before posting draft.
  2. Read a preview version. Somehow seeing the blog in the format it will be posted helps me see it differently, and I usually pick up a typo or two.
  3. Read the blog out loud or have the computer read it to me. Then I can hear the error if my eye refused to see it.
  4. If I have the time, I let some time pass and read the blog again before I hit the publish button.

Just remember, we all makes mistakes and a typo isn’t one to lose sleep over.

Do you have any tricks for quickly eliminating typos?

Thanks for reading . . .


How Do You Deal With Thoughts in Your Novel?

Do you use one of the three choices listed below:

  1. Write the thought in italics.
  2. Write the thought followed by a comma and ‘she thought.’
  3. Write the thought and assume your POV is strong enough for the reader to know whose thought it is.

I’ve listed an example of each option below.

Let me set the scene: Two women are running from an encroaching forest fire and one of them (Nora) is nine months pregnant.

Here are the examples:

  1. Kalin slammed the Jeep into park at the end of the dirt road. She leaned over the centre console and checked out Nora’s footwear. Flip-flops. Not good. “Do you think you can hike to Silver Lake?”
  2. Kalin slammed the Jeep into park at the end of the dirt road. She leaned over the centre console and checked out Nora’s footwear. Flip-flops. Not good, she thought. “Do you think you can hike to Silver Lake?”
  3. Kalin slammed the Jeep into park at the end of the dirt road. She leaned over the centre console and checked out Nora’s footwear. Flip-flops. Not good. “Do you think you can hike to Silver Lake?”

Which one do you think is best?

And can an author use all three within a novel?

I’d love to hear your opinion on this one.

Thanks for reading . . .


Writing Targets

I’ve read some authors write to achieve a specific word count per writing session.  This doesn’t work for me. During the time I allocate for writing, I might write, edit, proof read, research, or read. Setting a word count adds to much stress to the joy of writing. I can write to a deadline, I can write for the fun of it, I can write for creativity, but if I set a word count for a session, I obsess about the number of words and not about the quality of the writing.

While I’m doing other things with my writing time, all related to writing, an idea will often pop into my head. When that happens, I make a note of it. I’ve learned that if I don’t capture an idea, I won’t remember it later. I get right back to whatever activity I’ve been doing.

For me the writing life doesn’t mean writing all the time, but it does mean I shouldn’t get distracted from the task at hand. I believe all these things (editing, proof reading, researching, reading) make me a better writer.

Any thought?

Thanks for reading . . .

Correct Word Choice


So I’m a woman and you’d think I’d know the difference between woman and women.

I took a month off this summer from writing. I spent the time at the cottage with family and dogs having a wonderful time. Before I left for the cottage, I’d written about 40,000 words of my fourth novel, Look the Other Way.

After my return and before getting back to writing, I decided I’d better read what I’d written.

If you haven’t taken time away from a novel you’re writing, it’s an amazing experience. I was surprised and pleased by what I’d written. Well, with most of it anyway.

This brings me back to woman/women. I know how to use this word correctly, and yet, I found 2 places where I’d used it incorrectly.

Stepping away from the novel for a while and then reading it again, made these errors jump out at me. I’d be embarrassed if I, as a woman, sent this to anyone to read, and hadn’t caught the error.

Do you have a word your hands seem to want to type the wrong way?


The Final Proofread


I’ve discovered the final read of a manuscript is not much different in English or German. Yeah, so they are two different languages, but once the writer is ready to submit their manuscript to an agent or for self publishing, there are a few things to check that don’t depend on language.

To make this step easier, I:

  • change the font to anything other than the font I normally type in,
  • increase the viewing to %175,
  • turn the invisible characters on,
  • AND, read slowly.

This step takes time. For an 80,000 word manuscript, I need 40 hours to do this properly. That’s 40 hours of intense concentration without interruptions.

What do I look for? At this point, I’ve already proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes so I want to check for:

  • extra spaces,
  • double periods,
  • quotations marks that don’t have a matching partner,
  • extra lines between paragraph or page breaks,
  • consistent heading format for chapters,
  • consistent headers, footers and page numbering.

Before you send of your manuscript, don’t forget to:

  • remove bookmarks,
  • accept or reject any changes,
  • and turn off markups,

Your story may great, but you give yourself an edge over other submissions if your manuscript is technically perfect.

If you have any tips, let me know.

Capitalize your parents?

#writetip Should you capitalize parents? Proofreading is an endless task and here’s a mistake that’s easy to make.

Should you capitalize mom? (or dad, mother, father, aunt, uncle, you get the gist)

This short example shows you when you do and when you don’t.

“I don’t want to go, Mom. Really I don’t,” Ian said.

“You must,” Ian’s mom said.

Ian hesitated but obeyed his mom.

If you’re using mom as the name, then capitalize. If not, then don’t. Pretty easy, except when proofreading, one tiny letter is hard to see. I do a search for each mom, mother, dad, etc. and check to see if I’ve used them right.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Readers

#writetip Here are some of things to think about when having others read your drafts.

What you give your reader might depend on where you are in the process.

Early on, say after the first draft but well before you send it to an agent/publisher, you might want to give your reader smaller sections. This can be several scenes or a chapter.The value: Your reader can give you quick feedback on style, grammar, problems with story line, vacant scene, etc. You can then use this information to update the next section before sending it to them. Each section should be better than the last making you create a strong second draft.

When you think you have something you might send to an agent/publisher, this is the time to have a new reader (not the same person that read your early draft) to read your novel cover to cover.

The value: Your reader can comment on larger story issues, flow, pacing, believability, loose ends, etc.

Finally, don’t forget the phase of having someone other than yourself proofread. Here is where you need someone with attention to detail.

This works for me and I’m sure there are many ways to get the same result. I just can’t imagine sending out a manuscript without the help of others.

When writing tips drive you crazy . . .

#writetip Don’t panic!

At first I wondered how I would remember everything I was learning about writing. I kept notes. I recorded tips in spreadsheets. It was overwhelming.

Now that I’m working on my third novel, I find it easier to retain tips.

I think, once an author has a substantial amount (you can insert what you think is substantial) under their proverbial writing belt, it becomes easier to relate a tip to the actual writing.

Ask yourself if you follow the tip?

Ask yourself is the tip relevant to your writing?

Ask yourself does the tip come from a trustworthy source?

But don’t drive yourself crazy. Just write as best you can.

First Draft Readers

Am I nervous? #writetip Of course I am. I have a new reader for my third novel. I decided I needed someone to read my novel that hadn’t read the first two. So what did I do to prepare my reader? A reader has different responsibilities at each stage of the  novel.

For the first draft I give the reader a list of suggestions and questions.

1. Don’t worry about proofreading for typos. That will come later.

2. Each time you suspect a character of committing the crime, write it in the margin. This allows me to see if I’ve dropped too few or too many hints.

3. Did you start to skim anywhere? This is how I find out if I’ve put too much detail.

4. Are you unsure who is speaking? This means I didn’t add enough dialogue tags.

5. Sometimes a character doesn’t appear for a few chapters. When they reappear, do you remember who they are or do I have to add a reminder?

6. Is there anything you didn’t understand or that was confusing?

And finally I ask them to comment on any passages they liked. To me this is just as important as finding out what didn’t work. Then I can review that passage and understand why they liked it. Okay, and it’s a nice boost to the ego.

Proofreading A Novel

Being asked to proofread someone else’s novel is a scary and flattering task. #writetip I’ve been asked to do this, and I started thinking about what this means.

I asked the author and myself the following questions:

What is the author looking for? Does he want comments on punctuation and grammar, characters, or plot line.

Does he use a style guide that I should consult?

What are my own talents? Being honest here is important. Can you pick up typos? Or does your eye easily breeze over them?

Do I have the time? It’s a big commitment to review a manuscript. It deserves my full attention. The author has spent many hours creating the manuscript, and it’s better to say no to reading than to rush through it.

With that said, I’d better get focussed and start reading.