Six weeks until my novel is released and despite hours and hours spent proofreading I’m still finding typos. Not many, fortunately; just the rare missed word such as ‘to’ or ‘the’, a couple of ridiculous misspellings, a misplaced comma and quotation mark, and most annoyingly, a couple of pesky malapropisms…

I have no idea why I wrote “wretched” instead of “retched” Or “appraised” instead of “apprised”? My brain knows the difference, but my keyboard and/or typing fingers do not seem to care.

Just as unforgivable, I found two instances of “it’s” being used in the possessive sense. How even? Surely it’s easier to leave out that apostrophe than it is to put it in.

Not that I’m proofreading on my own. My manuscript is having a final check by a couple of friends who have been through the whole process with their own work. Meanwhile, I’m double and triple checking, over and over, and still not satisfied.

Of course, MS Word’s spellchecker helps, but it’s not perfect. I type on a Mac, and follow up with the spell checker in Pages which seems to be a little more thorough. Both are good for spelling errors, but Pages seems to be better at picking up malapropisms. Even so, not everything gets caught.

Missed words are harder to see: eg, “how do” instead of “how to do”. And all because the human brain – and apparently computer brains – are great at filling in gaps. Or maybe I’ve been staring at the screen for too long, and when the grammar checker flags an absent word, I miss that as well.

This is why I get up and go for a brief walk around the garden every 15 mins. It wakes me up, forces me to refocus.

Another way to catch missing words is to read and listen at the same time. My version of MS word is the cheapest you can get, so it doesn’t read aloud, but I’ve found a couple of apps online which serve the purpose. I’m currently using Speakline which is pretty basic, but has a number of speeds and voices, is free and works on Macs and PCs.

Finally, as for clunky sentences, listening to Speakline helps with those as well, but fortunately, all but a couple were fixed by my line editor and copyeditor. Money well spent. Having professional advice not only helped polish my manuscript, but also felt like taking a masterclass with my own work as the focus.

But editing is expensive and with good reason: it takes a lot of concentration, many hours of work and training. Sadly, by the time I reached the final proofreading stage, my budget was blown.

So this is where I am now. Proofing and reproofing, pulling out typos with the same grudging dedication as pulling out weeds.

I have six weeks left and I plan to catch them all.


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