Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spell check can't fix everything...

Imagine that spelling is not your favorite thing, so you're relying on the virtues of spell check to keep every word on your manuscript perfectly presented. It'll be great if you spell "coff" instead of "cough" (George Washington always had trouble spelling that word). But what happens when you write a sentence like this:
“Well, Buddy, I hate to do this, but I want to wine so catch me if you can,” Charlie said. When you're proofreading, you might not notice that the word "wine" should be "win." Of course, now your sentence is silly. The way to fix this problem is to have another, experienced set of eyes check your manuscript before you send it off to the publisher. I can wholeheartedly recommend this, because I've been in a similar situation. When my book, Charlie the Horse, was ready for the publisher, I asked my friend, Janice Spina, to proofread it for  me. She found a tiny mistake where a sentence had "you" instead of "your" in it and we were able to correct it. Janice deserves accolades for finding that mistake. As many times as I read and revised it, I completely missed it.
In my book, Charlene the Star, Charlene is a beautiful red horse whose relatives are famous racehorses. But Charlene doesn't like racing so she has her own temper fits to show her displeasure to her trainers. She does little stiff-legged bucks called "crow hops." How horrible would it be if I typed "cow hops" instead! The image of cows hopping around would be amusing, but definitely not the same as Charlene doing crow hops!
As authors, we want our work to be spectacular so we need to use every means at our disposal to accomplish that goal.


  1. Haha.. I think it would be spectacular if Charlene could manage cow hops!

    Loved this, we certainly want to be proud of our work but we are so close to it that our brains substitutes our errors into the words we mean to say. We can either find different eyes to help fix them or pray real hard that our readers will "see" what we mean and not what we wrote lol

    1. Maybe Charlene can practice cow-hopping for another book! Just visualizing that is making me laugh. Then she would have a very unique talent. I wonder if she'd pass it on to her children.
      But, you are right, Katherine, the main thing is that our readers know what we meant.

  2. Yeah so annoying how you can re-read something for the hundredth time and still miss these little mistakes! A good proof read is essential.

  3. It certainly is, Suzanne. We must all be cross-eyed from all the times we read our work. You wouldn't expect we'd miss anything after all that scrutiny.

  4. Hi Deanie! You're my 3Ups girl. ;) Nice to meet you! This post resonates with me so much this week. After tons of my own editing, and that of a few others, I finally collaborated with an illustrator in France for a picture book last year. After publishing with uTales, a children's ebook publisher, the illustrator and I took it into print ourselves through Createspace. I had proofed the pages, but didn't proof the back cover. Just yesterday, it was brought to my attention that whatever photo program she did the back cover in, it somehow hyphenated a word wrong. I nearly died when I got home and discovered it was true. So frustrating!

    I use spell check as my first go-through, but I don't rely on it. I'm sure you'll agree, but our critique readers are the best "spell & grammar" checks in the world.

  5. Oh, congratulations, CandiLynn! So happy your picture book was published. I had a similar experience with the back cover text of my second book, Charlie the Horse. My husband's boss noticed the little mistake right away and I totally missed it.
    Happy weekend.

  6. AGREED! Spell checker can't tell you that you're using "petal" instead of "pedal," or "waste" instead of "waist," either. Great post!!!

  7. Thanks, Randi Lee! We're always grateful for what it can do, but we need reminders that it's talents are limited. D

  8. This is so true! My blogs have a lot of wrong yet non mispelled words that did not appear wrong because no red wavy lines appeared under them. You really do need a fresh set of eyes to review your work.

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