Saturday, February 29, 2020

Typo Avoidence Strategies

Typos are the bane of every writer’s existence, and they annoy readers. When people tell me they can't afford to hire an editor, or even a proofreader, I suggest they look for items to sell on Craigs List or have a garage sale. I'm not being a smart aleck.  Your unwanted stuff can polish your product.

Before you work with a proofreader, you'll show copies to a critique group or send several chapters to a potential agent. To reduce errors in a draft, take a look at these Typo Avoidance Tips.

  1. Time and distance are your friends. The longer you let a draft sit in a drawer or in electronic limbo, the easier it is to spot errors later.
  2. Stop rewriting. Yes, you want your book to be the best you can make it. But at some point the book is done. Every time you rewrite a paragraph you can make new mistakes.
  3. Read slowly. You expect to see words in a certain order or names and places spelled a certain way, so that's what your brain sees and it keeps moving. If you slow down, you'll see the errors.
  4. Read your book out loud. It does take a lot of time, but you are asking a reader to pay for your book. They deserve this much more of your time.
  5. If your education did not include a formal grammar course, buy a book or take a community college or online course. Writing is likely your second career. Imagination may not be teachable, but a good command of the language can be learned.
  6. Keep track of regular errors to better recognize them in the future. Mine include leaving off the closing quotation marks or leaving out the apostrophe in the word its when it's supposed to be a contraction. But I'm not picky, I vary the mistakes.
  7. Use the search feature in your software to locate those regular errors. You won't find left-out words or missing punctuation marks, but you may see many oops items.
  8. Do a paperback rough draft. If you are self-publishing, you will do a paperback via Amazon, BN, or another source. When you review a printed proof, many errors will jump out. It's worth doing an early paperback version, even if you later redo it.
  9. Each device you have registered with Amazon has a Kindle address. (Look it up under "Manage Devices and Content.") Send your book to Kindle email address and it appears on your Kindle as a document (as opposed to a retail book). Just as with a paperback, your words will look different than they do on your computer, so you may spot errors more readily.
One caution. You don't want to pay attention to typos as you write those early drafts. Keep your focus on the story.
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