One of the things I can’t stand about working for a corporation is their philosophy on speed versus quality. I have always believed that quality should come before speed, and not the other way around. Whether you put out 20 or 200,000 units per year, if the quality is substandard, the damage is done and your professional reputation will suffer. The same holds true for writing. Publishers are in such a hurry to get as many books out as possible, that I’ve been seeing mistakes in books that can be corrected easily if they just slow down, and proofread a little.
As writers, we have a message to convey, and we do it through the written word. If we want to make certain our message is understood we need to do our part in the process. We put everything we have into writing, and have the most to gain from its success, or the most to lose from its failure. When we proofread our writing, we need to take our time, and make sure it doesn’t leave our hands until we are satisfied with the results.
Don’t rely on the spell/grammar check. The problem with the spell check is that it doesn’t catch every mistake. Let’s just say that you are writing a dialogue and one of the characters says, “Do you hear me?” If you are typing fast and not paying attention, you might type “Do you here me?” Here we have a typo that is very common. If you proofread carefully you will catch it and change it. If you rely on the spell check, it will never catch it because hear and here are both words that a computer recognizes.
This phrase might also be missed because it doesn’t change the flow of the sentence. Improperly used, words that sound the same, but are spelled differently can make a sentence confusing to readers, and may send the wrong message.
Other typos that the spell check won’t catch are the words that can break the flow of a sentence. One I’ve seen a lot lately is the word “of” instead of “if”. This is more of a fast typing problem, or a finger slip. One or two of these in a book is no real big deal, but two or three a page is sloppy proofreading. Very few books are completely free of mistakes, and it’s to be expected, but if you let them get out of control, you will lose readers.
Whether you’re writing a masterpiece of fiction or a letter to your family, if you want your message to be heard, and taken seriously, proofreading is essential. Take control of your writing, and invest the time needed to proofread; isn’t your message worth the effort?
Challenge: When you proofread, set a daily goal on how much you will get done. It will make it easier on your time.