If You Want To Communicate Your Message With Maximum Effect, You Must Learn How To Proof-Read And Edit Your Manuscript!
Good Editing can Improve your Work
Read the following paragraph quickly, and count instances of the letter ‘f’ that you see:
FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT
OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY
COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS
You probably saw three or four—right?
Wrong, there are actually six in the passage, and the reason you did not see them all is that when you quickly scan a passage you tend to ignore the shorter, familiar words. A trained proofreader will spot every one! This is why you need a proof reader, because they won't miss your typos and other errors.
Proof Reading Is A Pain
There is no doubt about it, proof-reading can be a tedious, boring, painful - if you think of it as looking for mistakes.
However, if you approach the task as a review of your manuscript this will allow you to read your draft, consider what you have written, and make any changes.
You must proofread and correct your writing many times before you submit it for publication as an eBook. If you submit your manuscript to a mainstream hard copy publisher, this is especially true because they will instantly dump poor writing.
Revision And Rewriting
Your first proofreading sessions must concentrate on the actual structure of your written material, looking for disjointed flow of ideas. You can cut out sentences and paragraphs altogether, or move them to a new position where they make more sense to the reader.
The manuscript may need new sections, paragraphs, or sentences inserted in some places. Especially where they may improve your writing and make more sense to the reader. This is equally true with fiction as it is with non-fiction, as both forms of writing are highly structured and must be eminently readable.
Does your writing answer all the questions you think it should? You must ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how when reading for content, and be happy that each question is fully answered.
Editing The Language
Manuscript proof-reading for editing purposes entails working on the words and sentences you have written, and looking for mistakes in language. This is the stage where your grammar is examined for correctness, while taking into account its context within the specific passage of the book.
These mistakes can include:
- Lack of clarity in a sentence
- Poor or incorrect grammar
- Over-use of clichés and metaphors
- Wrong or misplaced punctuation
- Spelling errors
- Fragmented sentences
- Subject - Verb disagreement.
...and much more.
Preparing To Proof Read
The consensus of most writers is that it is better to proof read and edit your writing first thing every day, when you mind is fresh and your thinking clear. You may not only spot glaring typos, spelling, and grammar mistakes, but also notice areas of the story that require attention.
Prepare a list of the common mistakes you make, so that you can look for them the next day. This can speed up your proofing & editing, and help to improve your writing at the same time!
Edit your printed work by standard lighting and not by fluorescent lighting, which has a slower flicker rate. This slower flicker makes it harder to see irregularities in your writing. Ensure that you have ideal working conditions. This may be a quiet room with a locked door, or one with your favourite music playing in the background.
Proof Reading Tips
The most important proof-reading tip is to read your work. Read your work in every manner possible: slowly, out aloud, backwards, upside-down, pointing with your finger to read one word at a time, and then have somebody else read it.
Make sure you also read a printed version:
- Double check type in unusual fonts, like bold or italic
- Double check the small words that are often interchanged, like 'of' and 'or'
- Check for something different with each reading
- Do not try to check for everything on one proofread
- Make sure that similes and metaphors are appropriately used
- Check those repeated words, and use a large thesaurus for finding synonyms
- Obtain a good dictionary and spell-check your writing.
Proof Reading Service Providers
The Internet has numerous Websites that offer various editing and proofreading services and their fees range from $3.50 a page to $100 an hour, and more! Customers often ask us to provide this service, and when publishing for a client we mostly include a final edit. However, we strongly believe that the author must make all the initial editing and proofreading.
The author is the only person who understands exactly what message the writing is meant to convey, and third-party editing can change the meaning entirely. We have all seen movies that differ entirely from the book, for similar reasons - the screenwriter sees things very differently to the original author.
Your money may be better invested in an established editing and proof-reading course, rather than paying a service to edit your work. This is a great investment and can only improve your writing skills.
- Earthlink: How to Edit Your Own Writing
- Merriam-Webster provides a free, on-line dictionary (with audio pronunciations), thesaurus, Word of the Day, word games, and other English language resources.
- ENCARTA Online Dictionary — An online searchable version of the Encarta Dictionary, this site also provides pronunciation guides and links to the Encarta Encyclopaedia.