Friday, March 26, 2021

Writing: Every Word Is Important

 I don't know how you read through a manuscript before subjecting it to print. Some folks read their work aloud. Some go over it, word by word, backwards (I guess if it's in Hebrew you go over it in the other direction). A few simply leave it alone, thinking that autocorrect will straighten everything out. 

I've had something like 17 or 18 novels and novellas published (I don't want to go back and count--that's close enough). Some have been self-published. Others have been published by various publishing houses. All have been subjected to proof-reading to a great or lesser degrees. And there have been errors in almost all of them, errors that slipped by the author and various people whose job was to catch errors.

Don't think that's true? I was just re-reading one of the published works of a novelist whose name would be familiar to many of you, a novel that was published by a reputable publisher and which (I'm sure) was proofread. And I came upon this sentence: "He had back hair that was slicked back upon his head..."  I think the correct wording included BLACK hair--can't see back hair going all the way up on the person's head. But if you leave it to autocorrect to clean up your errors, this will slip by, because "black" and "back" are both accepted words.

So what is an author to do? My suggestion is to accept the fact that sometimes a word slips by that makes a good example on a blog post. What about you?


Priscilla Bettis said...

Yes, typos get through. They don't bother me as a reader unless there are TOO many of them. I think my eyes will skim over a typo, say, every 10 pages. But more than that and it starts to look like the effort wasn't put in by the author or editor.

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, when an error is called to my attention, if the book was indie-published, I try to get it fixed. If a publisher was responsible, it's up to them. Personally, I find errors in almost ever book I read, and like you, I just skim over them. Good comment--one every 10 pages, let it go. More than that, the copyeditor did a poor job.

Patricia Bradley said...

I don't care how many times an author reads through their manuscript or how many proofreaders look at it, errors will still slip through! I wish it weren't so, but it is. :-)

If someone emails me and tells me they found a typo, I send it on to my publisher and they correct the digital copy and if it goes into reprint, it's fixed there, but there's nothing that can be done about the ones already pubiished. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, very true (on all counts). Errors happen, despite our best efforts. And when they do, maybe the author can get them fixed, maybe not.