Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Autumn of a Novel: Proofreading

The maple tree next to the road performs its annual Shakespearean death scene. Crickets halt their strident song and vacate the courtyard. I sigh and hunt for the socks I stowed away four months ago. Summer is but a memory as autumn's chilly hand draws an amber shade over pink lemonade and charred hot dogs.

In my corner of the world, autumn's cool breath is not confined to the outdoors. It seeps through the cracks of the windows and drifts over the last leaves of a lingering novel that filled my summer. After all of the plotting and brainstorming, writing and rewriting, editing and proofreading, the autumn of my novel has arrived.

For me, the autumn of this current work involves a final proofing. Proofing my own work is difficult.
I know what I am saying, therefore, I am not relying on the written words to convey meaning. Although I employ standard proofing techniques, I also depend upon the vision of others and the reliability of sound. Without them, I believe a work never achieves maturation.

Fresh eyes are the best proofreaders because they are not hindered by the monotony that has afflicted the author. After reading the same passages repeatedly, my brain tends to shut off. This know-it-all has a bad habit of glancing at the first and last letters of words and filling in the blanks. To avoid this trap, I pass my work to another proofreader. Rarely does the work come back without a red mark.

Sound also plays a part in skirting the trap my brain sets for me. By reading passages aloud I force myself to do more than glance at the word. Another ideal proofreader is Hal, my computer. If you have a PDF reader and a sound card, you have Hal, too. Open your PDF reader and look under
view, then read out loud. As you listen to Hal read your work, you may be surprised by the mistakes your eyes and tongue miss.

With that said, I'm going to return to the final proofreading of my novel. That's odd. The crickets have returned. I thought they were gone. I no longer see them, but I do hear them. Maybe I should put on a blindfold and have another confrence with Hal.

Did you find the typo in the above passage?


As always, I love to hear from you. If you're in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line. In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It's contagious.


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