Proofreading can drive you crazy!

I’m not a person who enjoys poring over detail which will be a relief to all those law and accountancy firms I never worked for!  It would be easy to think that, as a creative person, especially a writer that all you have to do is produce a compelling storyline or share your expertise in non-fiction and your job is done.

Having completed my first novel, I sent it out for an editorial critique to find it marked and circled in red with the words…. Punctuation!  Typo!  Clumsy wording! How come? I’d proof read it before sending it out but there’s a lot of room for error in 80,000 words.

I might not have the patience to scoop up every last error but I am a perfectionist. I want to show that I’ve spent a lot of time and care to get things just right. Apostrophes are my biggest bugbear. They morph into insect droppings on the page as I struggle with a major decision… leave in or take out.

If you want to impress an agent or publisher, then it’s imperative you spend time eliminating as many errors as possible. I enlisted the services of a small team to read individual chapters. That seemed to work for me but odd errors continued to smack me in the face when I read the final draft.

So I talked to other writers about how to make this painful process easier.

Read it backwards so you don’t get engrossed in the story, read it upside down (huh?), read it aloud, read it slowly, print it out and point to each word as you go. Maybe these suggestions work with a short story or an article but a full length novel?

I’m a believer in doing what you do best and finding someone else to do the rest. Professional proof readers are worth every penny to have  your work read by someone with no emotional interest in your creation.  They are often trained to a high level and have years of experience and know the tricks of their trade.

Some writers find proof reading fun. That’s great. I love the restructuring and the copy editing but for me getting that manuscript into a perfect state hurts my eyes and drives me nuts.

Proof readers, you are worth your weight in ( seeking to avoid cliché) … um.. coffee?

This post is contributed as Guest post by Angelena Boden