Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Spot the obvious errors

Despite following a vigorous routine to weed out any spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes, occasionally they still pass unnoticed into one of my submissions. Yesterday, whilst filing a print copy of a short story I'd submitted on Sunday, I had one of those 'and-you-call-yourself-a-writer' moments. Read the following and spot the obvious errors:

“My name is Bill Delaney and on Tuesdays I’m a Kleptomaniac. On Thursdays I’m delusional. On Friday's I’m a werewolf. On Saturday's I have homicidal tendencies. Well actually I have those tendencies on a Friday, but-”

Aggh! Am I the only one who misses these kinds of errors after the final proofread? Or, is it this type of mistake that explains why an author has unending praise for their editor?

Coincidentally, today's Strictly Writing post asks whether the art of editing is dying. Read the post to find out one author's conclusion.

11 comments:

  1. It is easy to miss them when you are so close to the writing.

    There are some stories and books that are so poorly edited they are painful. You always tell the ones where a human never read it before publication - when your two's, to's and too's are all mixed up. Spell check can miss those.

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  2. Oh gosh I tend to do these kinds of mistakes all the time - it's embarassing especially when no-one points them out and you discover them a day or so later after a few people have read them! LOL!

    We so need good editors! The art of good editing can never be underestimated as the result is always a cleaner, sharper, better story!

    Take care
    x

    Take care
    x

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  3. I think that the writing truly starts to "rev" on its own and the writer is an enthusiastic rider as the sentences pour out. I agree that an editor's eye can be that essential fine tuning instrument. I'm happy to follow you here :)

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  4. I think they're easy to spot in someone else's writing but almost impossible in your own. I think your mind glosses over what you can see and remembers what you intended to write. Seems to be like that with me anyway.

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  5. My blog readers are so kind because they never mention the inevitable two typos that always show up in my post. I try to write a post the night before and then look at it with a fresh eye before posting it, which helps me find typos, but not always!

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  6. It's SO easy to miss errors - no matter how many times you look at something!

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  7. I'd say I'm glad I'm not the only one, but that doesn't sound right. No writer wants to make mistakes such as these!

    As AJ says, your mind glosses over what you've written, replacing it with what you want to see rather than what is actually there. My OH has suggested trying to fool the brain into thinking it's looking at something new by printing the story in a different font. Has anyone tried this? Did it work?

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  8. A couple months ago one of my stories got rejected. I put on my big-girl, stiff upper lip pants and decided to submit it again, right away, to another magazine. As I was reformatting the story to the new guidelines I realized I had left out a beginning phrase on a paragraph. This repeated phrase was the theme that held the story together!

    So, yes. We've all missed typos. They happen, along with the rejections that accompany them because you now look incompetent. :)

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  9. Everyone misses things! Especially when you've read the in's and out's of that piece. You've given time to each page, over and over again. It's chaos and then you think it's brilliant! Can't catch it all!!!

    I will say that some suggested different font when you re-read over it, give your eyes something else to look at. I've yet to try it and see if it works, but you might like the idea :)

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  10. Hi Ellie - I think sometimes we are just so close to our work, and we read and edit so many times that it is hard to see the obvious things that jump out at other people. I think that is one of the reasons it is a good idea to set a story aside for a day or so and go back to it---you'll see all kinds of things to be edited/fixed!

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  11. I do this ALL the time. The best thing the writing course I'm doing has taught me is to write, edit then leave it for a few days so there's a bit of distance between you and it. I'm sometimes shocked when I go back to it.

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