Recently, a professional editor edited my manuscript. His work underscored a fact I’ve already faced. I suck at proofreading. (Before you gleefully start looking for errors, I have to confess that John and/or Justin look over my posts before I publish them.)
One repeated error arose from my ignorance of a grammar rule. You’re all probably aware that when I own up to being related to Aunt Nancy, she becomes my aunt Nancy. I wasn’t.
Sadly, perhaps even pathetically, beyond that, he found tons of little errors that I just didn’t see. In seventeen versions of my manuscript, they all escaped my notice. I was careful and gave myself breaks from my writing. Even as I had a Microsoft voice read each page to me, I still missed them.
Obviously, I need to hope that my book makes enough money for me to hire professional editors for all my future writing endeavors.
Until that happens, I need to improve my proofreading. Googling “improve your proofreading skills” quickly helped me isolate my problem. (That was sarcasm.) DailyWritingTips.com notes “concentration is key.” As every member of my family is “distractible,” that advice is more depressing than helpful. Knowing I need to concentrate better doesn’t help me do it.
Helpful Tips on Improving Proofreading Skills
Here are two tips that I’ve found that don’t require medication or personality change.
Pretend: Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) suggests role-playing. By that, they don’t mean hi-jinx to distract yourself (and others) from your writing. Rather they mean putting yourself in your audience’s shoes, or at least in their mindset. I tried this. Though tiny typos still get by me, it helps me catch places where my writing is unclear or redundant.
Proofread backwards: I’ve read this so many places that I’m not sure who to credit for the idea. Honestly, I found this incredibly tedious and frustrating for a manuscript. However, for a post of 300-400 words, it is helpful.
What works for you? Please comment; I could really use the advice.
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