Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Errors, Errors Everywhere

I'm not perfect. I fully admit that. All I can say is 'I try'.

Having said that however, I have to say I'm a little concerned. Read a book, and there are errors. (From both the writing and the editing side.) Read contest entries, and there are errors. In either case this is supposed to be the finest work we can put out, and still they are full of errors.

Sometimes they're just typos. Typos I can deal with. Those are mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes make it out into the real world, and there's little we can do about it. (Although I might argue, in the case of published material, someone somewhere was supposed to check the text before it hit the printer. Right?)

Sometimes they're grammatical or spelling errors. These should be rectified before the book hits the publisher, but proofing hundreds of pages of text is a daunting task. I don't mind a few in a book. Shit happens, and I can get over it. Please note, I'm not talking about intentional disobedience of the grammar rules. This is writing for Pete's sake. Sometimes the style and the story warrant a sentence fragment, or ending a sentence with a preposition, or beginning one with a conjunction. I'm talking about unintentional misuse of grammar because the person just doesn't know the rules. Yes, the education system is partly to blame, but only partly. At some point a person has to pick up a Strunk and White, or visit OWL (Purdue's Online Writing Lab) and pick up the slack. Not sure how to use a semi-colon? Go here. Not sure how to spell a word? Try here. (And if you follow that last link, and enter a misspelled word, it gives you a list of possible matches, so you can spell it right.)

Occasionally, it's nerves or excitement. As shown in my post of a couple days ago, nerves can bite you in the butt every time. So can excitement. If you're nervous about sending out your baby, chances are you can't look at it any more and see where the mistakes are at. If you're excited, it's even worse, because you're rushing to get the submission packet out and you can see the missing commas or the repeated words. If you're thinking this is happening to you, stop it. Find someone else to proof your stuff before it goes out the door, or take a couple days to relax so you can pull off those blinders.

In any case, this stuff can and should be fixed before someone slaps down $7.99 or $19.95 or $29.95 to purchase the book. They really ought to be fixed before a judge gets hold of your manuscript and shreds it - at least if you ever want a chance at winning.

When I left school, I sucked at English. Looking back on the papers I saved from middle school and high school and college, I can't understand why I was allowed to pass any of my English classes. It's almost painful to look at them now; they were so bad. My point is, I didn't settle for that. I taught myself. My spelling was atrocious, and I made a conscious effort to change. It wasn't a breeze, but it wasn't like a root canal either.

I guess all I'm saying is for the writers of the world to try. If you're trying already, ignore me, but if someone else looks over your COMPLETED work and afterwards it looks like it's bleeding red ink, then for your own sake, get thee to a grammar /spelling /proofing workshop /website /class.

It can improve not only your writing, but your marketability. Maybe afterwards your readers will be mesmerized by your story and not distracted by your errors.

And that can only help. Right?

(Please refrain from pointing out any grammatical and/or typographical errors in this post. This is a blog, not a book or an entry. I don't do much proofing here. Thank you. :grin:)

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