How do your proofreading?

Of course I reread my chapters several times before I post them online, but things still slip past me. So I was wondering what other people find are the most effective ways to proof read their own work?

Usually put it off until an hour or two before update's due to go live.

Have something of a routine:

* Activate wordpress spellcheck/grammar check. Do a read-through, find the obvious ones, look for sentences I didn't finish.

* Restructure any sentences that don't flow well.

* Press ctrl-f, search for obvious errors. I know which ones I tend to do, so this includes searching for ' ' (three spaces), '..' (extra period), plus character names where they aren't appropriate (they go by one name in costume and one with their mask off).

* If I have time, and it's one I really want to work on, the best way to give a thorough proofread is to read it backwards. Last sentence to first. You won't get caught up in the flow (and I'm a fast reader, so I tend to) and you'll notice errors more.

I don't tend to have time. I'm lucky most days if I get past the first bullet point above. So long as it's more or less readable, it's good. I don't stress much over typos. Would rather use time to tell a good story than to tell a well written story.

Worth saying, best way to write well is to make time to read. You pick up a lot of stuff unconsciously, and reading is the whetstone by which we hone our minds. Taking time before bed or whatever to just read a few chapters or a book a couple of times a week tends to make my writing 'feel' better.

Annnd, posting in a hurry, I managed to have a typo in my message's subject title about proofreading. Good job, Naomi, good job. ;-)

Oh, and I realized this was just said in the post above! (Oh well, it bears repeating):

Another trick, when your mind is tired, is to go through the story backwards. That is, you might read sentences and phrases forward, but you start at the end, and look at it a sentence at a time.

This helps because you usually miss typos because your mind is in the flow of the story and it covers the mistakes and tells you want you meant to hear. Reading backwards prevents you from glossing over things.


I also find that I tend to repeat words a lot. I use "nods" often as a default "the character heard it the other person's comment and does not want to verbally respond". So I tend to do a "Find" for the words I know I over-use and see how many times they appear on a page. Seems to help me cut that back as well. I also know that I tend to proofread more when I'm not at the deadline and while it's good t tell a good story, I have enough friends and betas that can't appreciate the story if it's badly written that I have no choice but to proof before I send out beta copies.

I have a problem with error blindness which is why I never proofread anybody else's work. It's not that I don't know the rules or how to spell it's that my brain corrects things before they reach my conscious mind.

The only solution I've found to this is to have a beta reader. Reading aloud helps but having someone else do it is even better.

Dragon Wars is beta read. Haventon, unfortunately isn't currently. I had a beta reader for the first few chapters but life landed on her so I've been putting it up unbeta'd. Dragon Wars also gets another - paid - copy edit before each arc is released in book form.

Once Haventon book one is done I'm going to pay the person who does the pre book publication copyedits on Dragon Wars to go over it and put the repaired version up. (At this rate he's going to end up on retainer).

I first proofread an episode the day after I wrote it, but since I have a buffer of Morpheus Reports episodes, a few more weeks pass before the episode goes up on the blog. Proofreading again after not looking at the text for those few weeks helps me catch a lot of things that doesn't flow or sound quite right.

Yeah... writing something an hour before it's "due" doesn't leave a lot of time to edit....

Most computers have text-to-speech software. It's built into the Mac, for instance, and I'm sure there's something similar on Windows. Have your computer read your story to you. You'll notice when it reads the mistakes.

Chris, that's a great idea! I never thought about that. If anyone knows a good Windows text-speech program, let me know

Reading the story out loud (with voices!) has been the most effective way to proofread for me. When I can't read out loud, I just have my 5th draft open along with my latest draft and edit them side by side, line by line. I pick at it here and there and do a final push Sunday before it goes online, and again in the blog post. Even with all that attention, things still slip past me, and that's usually when I get a comment pointing it out. And so I go back and fix. No big deal, you know? :)

after writing a piece, be it story or script, i let it sit overnight and look at it again in the morning. That "sleep on it" delay lets me read it with fresher eyes, and catch a lot of things i missed otherwise.

I also tend to try to leave it at least overnight before proofing it, so I have a fresher perspective. I try to give my posts about three read-throughs before they go up, across at least two train trips (I write/edit during my commute), so they're spread out and my brain has a break between.

In contrast I went to bed last night and had a pure moment of clarity on a plot point. I did not get up and write it down and now I have no idea what it was.....

Those moments are rarely as good as they seem in the twilight of near-sleep.

I find I have more of those brilliant moments in the midst of putting sentences to paper.

ive taken to texting those to myself, and often find I cant remember what it was, and hr plt pnt gldn gladden shrw, radiation! isn't as easy to decipher....

(thankfully i told that one to my wife while going to sleep, so she reminded me, and yes, it was brilliant! Disgusting, perverted, and rated x, but brilliant.

I remember one of the most annoying notes I ever left myself on an outline for a story was 'she then finds out the truth' and nowhere had I thought to put down what said truth was.