In the previous post I mentioned various proofreading methods I considered for my short story collection, The Year of the Elm (TYOTE). While the objective in all cases was the same — eliminating nagging typos and errors — each method had different strengths and weaknesses.
Because I knew TYOTE would be read by almost no one, and would bring in almost no revenue, I decided to pursue the option that promised to teach me the most about the proofreading process, and about my own ability to spot mistakes. Against all advice, and despite knowing in advance that I could not be one hundred percent successful, I decided to proofread the final draft of the collection myself. (Full disclosure: one other person gave the stories a proofreading pass early in the process.)
Having written professionally in a number of mediums I know I have a decent eye. Not great, but good enough to catch a lot of common errors. Still, like every writer, I have my nemeses. For example, I am constantly transposing ‘from’ and ‘form’, and no spell checker can save me from that fate. Even when I consciously watch for that mistake, slowing my eye to a letter-by-letter crawl, I invariably miss an instance. (Case in point, when I originally wrote ‘from’ and ‘form’ above, I wrote it as ‘from’ and ‘from’ — and didn’t catch the mistake until re-reading the sentence for the umpteenth time.)
Too, it’s worth noting that much of my professional writing has been script work, both in the motion picture and interactive industries. While I certainly don’t want typos in my milestone drafts, a typo in a script feels like less of a crime simply because a script is a blueprint, not a finished work. When I really came to terms with the fact that I would be producing a finished product with my name on it, my level of concern (and vanity) about typos markedly increased. Where I previously felt that typos in a script were unprofessional, I suddenly felt as if typos in my short story collection would be a personal criticism of me. [ Read more ]