Writing a good novel takes equal doses of time, energy, creativity, and hard work. Preparing a manuscript to send to an editor requires a similar sort of effort. Proofreading is a novelist's best tool for turning a rough draft into a novel worthy of publication. A novelist should keep these proofreading tips in mind when it is time to sift through his or her latest work:
- Step away. Once you have completed a draft of your novel, let it sit for a few days before proofreading. It will allow you to see your work from a fresh perspective.
- Wake up. Proofread at a time of day when you are alert and full of energy. It does little good to try to catch errors if you are half asleep.
- Use a spelling and grammar-checker. Your spelling and grammar-checker should not be your only tool, but it can help you catch the most obvious errors up front and save valuable time.
- Print it out. Seeing your words printed on actual paper can highlight errors that might not be obvious if you just look at your computer screen.
- Track repeated mistakes. Take note of which mistakes keep showing up in the manuscript. If you find yourself making certain errors repeatedly, recognizing it will allow you to correct those mistakes in the rough draft stage.
- Read out loud. One of the best proofreading tips is to read your novel out loud. Words and sentences sound differently in your head. Reading them aloud can help you figure out which ones do not fit.
- Listen to your novel. Record yourself reading your manuscript aloud or use a text-to-speech program. It will give you a better idea of how it flows.
- Use your eyes. Check your own work from start to finish at least once before passing it off to someone else and letting them proofread it.
- Do not edit. Proofreading is not about editing story elements such as scenes or dialogue. That step should be taken care of separately before you start proofreading.
- Repeat the process. You will never catch every error the first time around. Go through your novel multiple times until you no longer find any significant errors.
About the author: Randall Davidson is one of the founders of ProofreadingServices.Us, a proofreading service that offers book proofreading. Randall enjoys sharing writing tips and best practices with other authors.