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Proofread, Then Proofread Again

Copyright © 2002-2005, 2010, 2015 by David E. Ross

I encountered the following in the introduction to a story:

Or maybe getting through that tough so you couls talk tot he pimp and get your, well, um, yeah anyways, moving right along!
I wrote to the author, but he could neither translate it nor remember what he was trying to say. Thus, not only must writers proofread what they write; but they must also do it promptly, before it gets stale.

Here is another:

I tried my hands a face off.
From the context prior to this, I think (merely a guess) that the author meant:
I dried my hands and face off.

And another:

Even the instead of the evaluator was pretty nice.
Try to interpret this. Then put your cursor over the quote to see my interpretation.

Research done about ten years ago indicates that the best proofreading is done from hardcopy. Print out your story, and read it. As my daughter — a professional writer — strongly recommends, reading aloud helps to find problems (possibly by slowing the reader). Reading aloud might have caught the following:

He had been extremely to walk out of there with just a few bruises.
Obviously, he was extremely something; but I don't know if it was lucky, glad, or what. This author seems to omit many words, perhaps by writing too quickly. He might even read his own work aloud too quickly to catch his mistakes. That is why some authors exchange stories with each other, each acting as the other's editor.

No matter how you approach this issue, just remember that no spell- or grammar-checker will find all errors. Some might even introduce new errors. Micro$oft's dictionary for Word 97 gives the plural of ephemeris (a table of space satellite positions and velocities in an orbit) as ephemeredes; the correct spelling of the plural is ephemerides. (As a software engineer specializing in testing systems for operating space satellites, this was important to me.)

In any case, neither a spell-checker nor a grammar-checker would find the error in the following (other than the missing period at the end):

No way you are staying here with me
From the context, punctuation in the middle is missing. What the author meant was
No way! You are staying here with me.
which is quite the opposite of what he wrote.

The context of the following involves a person who is in his own apartment.

I kicked my shows off and got back onto the bead.
Again, put your cursor over the quote for my interpretation.

The word "aphrodesiac" is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek godess of love. It has nothing to do with Africa. There is no excuse for writing "afrodesiac". Proofreading should include the use of a dictionary.


Updated 12 February 2015

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