I will say it, because I know it to be true, that my brain and hands are not co-ordinated. Unless I slow down the web of thoughts in my head, my hands can’t keep up. When I’m really in the mood to write and I have a limited time to do so, I speed type. If I don’t do something immediately, more likely than not, my brain will forget things.
I’ve had editors, I’ve had people read and critique my work and no matter what, errors slip through. Do you pick up fiction books and find typos, or errors in them? I sure have. It’s not the end of the world but it can be a big problem if your book (self published or not) is full of errors.
But I have gathered my list of how I spot my errors and typos in my own work.
TEXT TO SPEECH
Oh, yes. By hearing a computerised voice speak my work back, I can hear if I have a typo, a missing word, or if the sentence just doesn’t make any sense – at all. I usually do this for a paragraph at a time so I can edit as any problems make themselves known. This is a painful task, yes, but its helpful. While they can’t pronounce certain names or words (which is equally as hilarious as helpful) it is one good way to hear your work out loud and check if your punctuation is correct. If grammar isn’t your strongest point then do try to improve that skill. Read more, write more. My grammar was awful when I was younger because it was one of those things my brain was like ‘NOPE NOT TAKING THIS IN’ but with time I do believe that I have improved. Give three people the same passage and they will come back with different punctuation.
READING YOUR WORK OUT LOUD
Now I am going to admit something here that I haven’t done previously. I don’t have brilliant speech in person. In fact from a young age, I’ve had a stutter and still have it. So when I have to read my own work out, I often get stuck on common words, and this is the main reason that I don’t read my work out loud unless in an accent. This theory may work for people with good, normal speech. But you can fall into the trap of knowing what you meant to say. The computer doesn’t. It only knows your tangled mess.
READ IT IN A DIFFERENT FORMAT
I hope that makes sense, because I can’t find a better wording. When work is on a published format, it’s easier to spot errors. We all know the feeling of our best proof reading is after we hit send. Try a PDF. You can’t edit a PDF. Have your document open as you read to catch those errors. Try sending the doc to your kindle (if you have one) and you can read it like an actual book and spot those damned errors. Printing is a good one, too, you can add written comments but if you’re like me, the thought of printing a novel makes you cry because your pockets aren’t deep enough, then fear not. Change the font of your story, it always helps.
FIND AN EDITOR OR A BETA READER
If you’ve ever been on critique websites, some members will severely tell you off for having typos and say you should share your best work on there. But the point of this piece is simply that it’s difficult to self edit. Finding typos is one thing, then comes the content editing. I’m getting better at content editing and I do believe that I am making solid progress on that front.
But even editors and beta readers aren’t foolproof. You hear those stories or paying a lot for a bad, bad edit. This is the reason that if I had any money to spend, that I would make sure I spent it correctly. Different people catch different things. Nobody is perfect, but readers expect perfection.
TYPE SLOWER, READ SLOWER
I can’t stress this one enough. Typing fast leads to disasters. For those of us who grew up with MSN messenger, we learned to type damned fast. Yes, I get told by everyone “how do you type so fast” — its a skill but its not necessarily good typing. If you read slower, taking in every word, you will catch things better than if you skim. Easier said than done, I know, but if you find yourself skimming your own work, it’s a good sign that your reader could be, too.
This is all I can think of for now. Damn. If you have any tips, please share them.