Proofreading Tips for Writers

Proofreading

If you have written anything before, whether essays, reports, fiction, articles, or any other form of writing, you will most likely have discovered the difficulties that come with proofreading your own work. Even if you have an impeccable knowledge of the English language, there is one pitfall that is almost impossible to avoid:

Our brain tricks us into seeing what should be there instead of what is there.

No matter how often we re-read our own writing, or how much distance (time) we place between ourselves and our work, sneaky, simple mistakes will almost always slip through the cracks. As an example, I wrote a short story where a character “threw her bag and keys on the table”. Or, that is what it was supposed to say. Despite multiple readings over a period of two months, I never picked up that it actually said “threw her back and keys on the table”, until someone else pointed the mistake out to me.

These sorts of errors slip easily past spelling and grammar checkers, and often only a fresh pair of eyes will find them. It is also small errors like this that can drag a reader out of the flow of the story, lessen the impact of your writing, and affect your professional image if you write for a living.

There are, however, a few tips and tricks that can help you pick up on as many of these pesky little mistakes as possible:

  • Take as much time as possible between writing and proofreading your writing, so your work has become less familiar
  • Read very slowly, or read out loud (or both)
  • Re-read the work several times, focusing on a particular issue on each pass (punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc.)
  • Print out your work to proofread it
  • Change the typeface, colour, size, and/or background to trick your brain into thinking you’re reading something new
  • Take breaks, be well rested and as alert as possible

While all of these techniques can be useful, nothing really beats getting another person to proofread your work, if at all possible. Just to be safe.

 

Helpful Links for Proofreading Your Own Work: 


Get Your Eagle Eye On: 10 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Work by Leah McClellan:

http://writetodone.com/get-your-eagle-eye-on-10-tips-for-proofreading-your-own-work/

21 Proofreading and Editing Tips for Writers by Melissa Donovan:

http://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips/proofreading-and-editing-tips-for-writers



Are You Botching Your Dialogue?

A great post on writing dialogue from Kristen Lamb.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Today we are going to talk about dialogue. Everyone thinks they are great at it, and many would be wrong. Dialogue really is a lot tricker than it might seem.

Great dialogue is one of the most vital components of fiction. Dialogue is responsible for not only conveying the plot, but it also helps us understand the characters and get to know them, love them, hate them, whatever.

Dialogue is powerful for revealing character. This is as true in life as it is on the page. If people didn’t judge us based on how we speak, then business professionals wouldn’t bother with Toastmasters, speaking coaches or vocabulary builders.

I’d imagine few people who’d hire a brain surgeon who spoke like a rap musician and conversely, it would be tough to enjoy rap music made by an artist who spoke like the curator of an art museum.

Our word choices are…

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The World’s Most Evil Books – in movies and real life

A fun and fascinating post for fans of horror and the macabre via Parlor of Horror.

parlor of horror

The World’s Most Evil Books – in movies and real life

book of shadows

For conjuring, spells, invocations and summoning the dark powers and Demonic entities

Books for summoning dark powers, entities, and magicks are often called Grimoires. These Grimoires were often collections of incantations and spells that practitioners accumulated in their travels, rewritten in an orderly fashion. Some were more intensive studies by monks, Satanists and sorcerers interested in the dark arts and attempting to unlock the secrets of death and the great beyond. Here’s a brief look at some of the most powerful dark arts books in the world.



TheBlackPullett

The Black Pullet – 1700s

This book from 18th century Rome gives instructions and guides on creating and using Talismans. The magic of the rings is known to bring forth a multitude of extraordinary powers of protection, healing, and spellbinding. One such ceremony concerns producing the Black Pullet, known as the…

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Cyber Bullies vs. Cyber Lynch Mobs—Does Anyone Win?

There are many trolls and bullies on the Internet. And the temptation to start slinging hate back at them can become very strong, particularly when you are under personal attack or feel strongly about the issue being discussed. However, in such situations, nobody wins. I have a strict policy in my online dealings – do not engage with trolls and bullies. Just block and move on. I am all for the respectful debate of differing opinions, but public shaming, name-calling and death threats have no place in a respectful discussion.

In the following article, Kristen Lamb discusses the hazards of the Internet, and points out that there are no winners in the hate wars that sometimes erupt online, which have the potential for far-reaching consequences in real life. ~ Flynn

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Humanity has been gifted with this lovely new invention…the internet. For the first time in human history, we can connect and even befriend people all over the world. We can easily research, whether that is for a novel we’re planning or to figure out why we broke out in weird spots after eating pistachios. There is also a never-ending supply of entertainment and we never have to ever be bored again…

Yeah.

Okay, that alone could be a whole book (my POV is that us being bored more often might be good for us) but that isn’t what I’d like to talk about today.

Today? *takes deep breath and dives in*

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On Monday, a cover model who’s posed for numerous covers had well, he…ok he lost his ever-loving MIND. As I was watching the scenario unfold, I kept wanting to type a message to him.

For the love of chocolate…SHUT…

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There Is No “Right Way” To Be A Writer

  
Writing advice is abundant everywhere around us. Books, magazines, websites, social media, and blogs, are filled with tips and formulas from experts and bestselling authors. There is advice on every aspect of the writing process, from avoiding procrastination, to outlining and planning, to character creation, plotting, description, dialogue, and editing.  

Much of this advice is excellent and very helpful if you need to work on a particular aspect of the writing craft. However, much of it is also conflicting and very subjective, and can leave an aspiring writer feeling as though they are doing something wrong if they are not meeting certain standards or goals.

Writing, like any creative process, is very personal. While there is always room to improve of the craft aspects of writing – the “nuts and bolts” so to speak, such as sentence and scene structure, plotting, dialogue, setting, description, and characterisation – the actual process of writing is highly personal.

Some writers prefer to work from outlines, make copious notes and plan extensively before beginning a first draft, while others prefer to dive straight in. Some will write out their first draft as quickly as possible, while others prefer to work more slowly and make sure each part of the story is just right before continuing. Some authors advise writing every day, while others write in bursts with breaks in between.

There are writers that can churn out a first draft within a few weeks, and publish several novels per year, while others work more slowly, perhaps writing only one novel per year, or even less. Each writer prefers to work in a different environment, has certain rituals, and preferred tools to work with.

All of these aspects of being a writer are highly individual, and unlike the craft aspects of writing, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Just because a certain process works for a famous author, does not mean it will work for you. By all means, read their advice and adopt what feels right for you, and continue to experiment until you find your own process.

 
But don’t feel that you are somehow lacking or a failure if you can’t churn out a first draft within a certain time frame, or if you can’t meet a certain daily word count. Don’t feel as though you should quit if you don’t write every single day, or can’t write 2000 words an hour. Don’t feel inferior if you can’t set and maintain a strict daily writing schedule.  

Yes, writing takes dedication and work, but we are all different and have different rhythms and schedules. There is no single “right way” to be a writer. Whether you sit down and type up an entire first draft over a weekend, or if you ruminate, take notes, plan, and gradually draft out a novel over a period of many months, you are still a writer.

It can be very useful to set goals, but be a little flexible as well. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that stressing out about writing (or a lack of writing) is taking up more of your time than writing is.

There is no faster killer of creativity for many people than worrying too much about keeping a rigid schedule or maintaining word count goals (of course this is also subjective – some writers thrive in just such an environment).  

Remember to have fun with your writing. Enjoy the journey. And don’t be too hard on yourself. 

Why Your Author Blog is Stuck & What To DO

I started this blog last year with no plan at all, and no idea what I was doing. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, though I’ve learned a lot over the past 9+ months. This article by Kristen Lamb provides a lot of solid advice on planning and maintaining a successful blog, focusing on blogging for authors and building an author brand.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

Ah the blog. Some of you might perk up at the word. Others? Blog sounds like some radioactive creature that hatched from a meteor and is only there to feed. Feed on your energy, your hopes and your dreams.

Many writers start the blog with high hopes, then a few months in? You can’t bear to go to your computer because the screen is a reminder of that shiny blog you started…then abandoned to the spam bots.

A blog done properly is one of the most powerful tools in our social media arsenal.

Twitter could flitter and Facebook could face plant, but the blog will remain. In fact, blogs have been going strong since the 90s and have taken over much of what used to be the sole territory of traditional media outlets. Additionally, blogging is the only form of social…

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