Tuesday Tip

Standard

tip#1

Its vary important to spell write.

See what I did there?

I bet you can tell what today’s tip is about just from that example. You might think spell check has you covered, but it’s not full proof. Word processors can miss–even introduce–errors.

Identifying Airers Errors

The best way to identify spelling errors is the standard read-aloud method. That’s right, nothing fancy. Just read your manuscript very slowly and  highlight every word you aren’t sure of. It also helps to read backwards. Why? Because when you read, your brain will auto correct many errors. But if you read backwards, the sentence loses meaning, allowing you to notice mistakes.

Share your writing with others. If you’re afraid of the shame and humiliation that comes with sharing your writing, imagine how much more humiliating it will be when readers, not beta readers, find errors after purchasing your book. If you think they’ll be understanding, read some reviews where readers have caught misspelled words. A simple human error can be jarring to a reader, causing them to question you as a writer or even leave a scathing review.

If you think I’m being dramatic, go check out some reviews. Some reviewers even list the page numbers where they found the mistakes. That’s just pretentious if you ask me.

Like spell check, people can introduce errors into your work as well. So why let others read it? It’s not that other people are necessarily better spellers than you. However, they aren’t as close to the work and therefore won’t be as likely to correct words in their heads. Trust me, they will do a better job than your handy-dandy spell check.

Online Spell Checkers

There are a lot of free spell checkers online. I’d include some links, but all you have to do is perform a Google search. Some of these even check for grammar.

Though not free, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Grammarly. Not only does it check for spelling errors, but it checks for plagiarism as well. To be honest, if you’re going to spend the money for an online grammar checker, you might as well hire an editor.

Spelling Names

Another reason not to rely solely on spell check: spell check will assume every name in your book is a misspelled word. If you write fantasy, you know what I’m talking about. Here are a list of names my spell checker flags: Bronwyn, Ashby, Gailodyn, Thaolas, and Thanduryn. Instead of clicking ignore over and over again while running spell check, add your names to your spell checker dictionary.

Before you do that you need to make sure you choose one spelling to adhere to. My sister is bad about this. She’ll dabble with the spelling of a name, changing it midway through her rough draft. Once you choose a name, you can use the search replace feature to correct the spelling.

Create a Style Guide

The easiest way to keep names straight is to keep a list. When I was a copy editor, I recorded every name that appeared in the story in an alphabetized list. Whenever the name appeared again, I checked it against the list to make sure it was spelled the same. If not, I asked the author which spelling they preferred.

Commonly Confused Words

Some spelling problems you’ll encounter in your WIP aren’t so much misspelled as misused. Has your character ever walked threw something he should have walked through or spoken allowd when he should have spoken aloud? Below are some commonly confused words.

  • accept/except
  • aloud/allowed
  • affect/effect
  • allusion/illusion
  • all ready/already
  • altogether/all together
  • capital/capitol
  • cite/sight/site
  • elicit/illicit
  • complement/compliment
  • lose/loose
  • past/passed
  • principal/principle
  • council/counsel
  • then/than
  • they’re/there/their
  • to/too/two
  • through/thorough/threw

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and happy editing.

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7 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip

  1. Excellent advice! I hear you on the making a list of character names. Even as I was writing my book, I had the list in front of me to keep track of how it is spelled. Reading backwards? I never thought of that, but will definitely try it. 🙂

  2. Great post. I read aloud to my mother, an honest critic to boot. I catch so many errors before hitting the Publish button that way.

    I write a daily 15 minute photo prompt piece. Since it is only meant as an exercise I am careful not to over work the piece. Shy of trying to catch punctuation and spelling mistakes I leave the writing the way it is.

    When I read my writing aloud it is amazing what I catch. I will definitely try the backward reading as I still miss small things the other way.

    At present, I am not using any online spell checkers or grammar correctors – I don’t trust them. I do think having a real live editor to do that work is essential. I’m still a long way from that point – reading aloud to mom will have to do for now. 🙂 🙂

    This was a great tip! Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers, Jenny
    PearsonReport
    Write Brain Challenge

    • I’m glad it was helpful to you. That’s great that you read aloud to someone else. Some are uncomfortable reading, even to themselves, but the tongue is not so good at correcting errors as the mind.

  3. Jon

    I always add my names from makeitupasyougoalong into the dictionary on my WP. I recently moved from Word to Open Office, so now I’m having to add them all again …

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