When I’ve written something that really excites me and I can’t wait to send it to a publisher I am often tempted to rush the procedure. Just push it through spellcheck and glance over the story looking for grammar and punctuation mistakes. This is my current state, but before I proceed I need to commit to a real process.
When I proofread…
I need to remind myself that I am proofing, not editing. While proofreading I will not change the meat of the work. I’m checking to ensure there are no errors within the text.
Get rid of distractions and potential interruptions. Switch off the cell phone, turn off the television or radio and stay away from email. Just say no to Instagram cats and sloths.
Read the text out loud. This should help me discover any awkward or dull spots in the text and story. It should highlight the flow of the story, as well.
Proofread a printed copy of my work. It’s easier to spot mistakes in print than on the computer screen.
Take a break for a few hours or even overnight. Reading with a clear head helps. Oddly, I find this part of the process pretty easy.
Read the completed text several times, looking for grammatical errors I tend to commit. I keep a list of the errors from past edits. I’ve been lucky enough to have some of the best editors and proofreaders review my work. It would be foolish not to take notes. Dig?
Contractions and Apostrophes
Check the Numbers
Have a trusted friend read the work for me, looking for both context and grammar issues. I need to look for specific examples regarding context.
Clarity and Content. Is the story understandable? Does it create a connection to the main character? Is the tale even worth telling?
Cohesiveness. Does the story work as a whole? Is there a segment that seems out of left field? Does a situation seem out of place for the setting or does an action seem out of place for a character?
Continuity. Does every segment of the work flow smoothly into the next or are their portions so rough that the reader is pulled from the story? Does it run to a natural and believable end?
Proofreading is not the most exciting part of writing, but it may be one of the most important. What is your proofing process?