Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Ten Tips for Proof Reading and Editing (2017) by Karen DeMers Dowdall

This is the third post from author K.D.(Karen DeMers) Dowdall’s archives and she also has some news, with The Captain’s Witch, her latest book being released on September 1st.. Karen features guest posts and I have selected this one as even writers such as myself, with bad habits…. will find it useful.

Ten Tips for Proof Reading and Editing (2017) by Karen DeMers Dowdall

These are very informative, yet simple and easy to do. Melissa writes that “I spend most of my work hours editing other people’s work and self-editing my own writing. In fact, I spend more time on self-editing than I do on writing. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips for self-editing.”

– Melissa Donavan, http://www.writingforward.com

1.Accept Favor Requests for Editing

When a friend, family member, or co-worker asks you to look at a draft, do it. Even if you’re busy, even if you don’t feel like it or have your own projects to write and edit, take it on. The more editing you do, the better you get at it, and that means you become better at editing your own work, too.

2. Know When to Turn Off Your Inner Editor

There’s a time and place for editing, and often, the first draft is not it. Some writers craft sentence by sentence, perfecting each paragraph before moving on to the next. If that works for you, great. But if you spend hours stuck on word choice or sentence structure and you can’t move forward with the project, turn off your inner editor, blind yourself to typos and grammar mistakes, ignore bad writing, and just let your fingers fly.

3. Make Sure You’re Wearing Your Editing Hat

When you edit, make sure editing is really what you’re doing. In other words, be aware that editing is not scouring the text for typos and stray punctuation marks. Editing is when we strengthen story, sentences, and paragraphs. Proofreading comes later. That’s not to say we don’t do a little proofing while editing or that we don’t do a little editing while proofing. I know I do. However, I always do a full revision focused on editing and another on proofreading. For more complex pieces, I do multiple edits and proofs.

4. Edit On-Screen and Track Changes

Many writers and editors swear by the printed page. But that’s a messy and inefficient way to edit. If you start editing on-screen, you’ll adjust to the new format and soon find it’s much easier than marking up print. If you’re making big revisions (as you should during editing) and you’re worried about losing the original text, use Microsoft Word’s feature, Track Changes, which does just what you’d expect — it tracks all the changes you make as you edit. Then you can go through and review every edit and accept or reject those changes individually or collectively later. This is also a great way to edit twice — once to make the changes and again to approve them.

5.If You’re Not Sure, Look it Up (and Know What You Don’t Know)

Your greatest wisdom as an editor is knowing what you don’t know. Having resources in your arsenal is one thing. Using them is something else entirely. Don’t be lazy! Remember that every time you look something up, you learn something new and expand your writing skills. Plus, the more you look things up, the less you’ll need to look them up in the future. Eventually, they become a natural part of your writing process.

6.Keep a Grammar Manual and Style Guide Handy

When you’re proofreading and editing, you need to be meticulous. Don’t cut corners. If you’re not sure about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or context, you need to be able to open up a grammar manual or a style guide, so make sure you have the right resources handy. Be vigilant, be correct, and use good judgment, keeping in mind that sometimes it’s best to bend the rules, but only if you know what the rules are and why you’re breaking them.

7. Run Spell-Check and Grammar-Check First

Before you do anything, run spell-check and use your word processing software’s grammar checking tool (if it has one). Automated checkers don’t catch everything, but they can catch a lot, and that means you’ll have more time and brain energy for manual editing. Also, use the find-and-replace feature, which allows you to quickly find or replace a single error multiple times. For example, many people are still in the habit of using a double space after a period. I always do a find-and-replace to replace all those double spaces with the modern standard: single spaces after every period or terminal punctuation mark.

8. Read Slowly and Out Loud

The most crucial aspect of proofreading and editing is reviewing every single word and examining the written work at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels. Plus, you should be able to assess every document or manuscript in its entirety to check for readability, organization, and flow. This means you’ll have to go over each piece numerous times. To separate yourself from the content so you can better evaluate the writing, read slowly and read out loud. You’ll catch a lot of minor mistakes and typos this way.

9. Listen for Wording and Rhythm

Editing involves more than checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When you read the piece out loud, pay attention to the rhythm. Does it flow smoothly? Do the sentences alternate in length or are there a series of really short (or really long) sentences that have a droning rhythm? Break up some of those longer sentences and join some of the smaller sentences together to give the writing better rhythm and more musicality

10.Pay Attention to Formatting

Formatting is actually separate from editing. This involves things like font (size, face, and other formatting options, such as bold or italics), paragraph and line spacing, and indents. Chapter titles and subheadings, for example, should have the same font and spacing. Citations should be formatted with consistency (and preferably, adhering to a style guide). Keep an eye out for inconsistencies in this area.

BONUS TIP: Review to Perfection

I like to follow a five-step process for editing:

  1. Read the entire text.
  2. Second pass focuses on wording and readability.
  3. Third review focuses on editing for word choice and sentence structure.
  4. Fourth pass is proofreading (check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos). This is where I read out loud, slowly.
  5. Final review and polish.

(I repeat step five until I can’t find anything to improve.)

©K.D. Dowdall 2017

About Karen DeMers Dowdall

Karen Demers Dowdall PhD, MSN, BSN, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and spent her elementary-grade school years in the small farming community of Salmon Brook, settled in 1680 by a stalwart group of Europeans. She grew up exploring its lush and dark forest preserve, swimming in Salmon Brook with a plethora of the unexplained, exploring Rock Fall Caves, and ice-skating on a “haunted” pond in winter.

Karen has traveled abroad and lived in the Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, and England. Living overseas opened to her, a vista of cultures, historical vistas, and led her to believe that all cultures have storytellers that reveal all their hopes and dreams through vivid fantasy fictions, poetry, short stories, and dramatic written presentations throughout their culture history.

Karen has always written poems and short stories, and now has three novels that represent fantasy, coming of age, and a dark mystery. Her latest novel The Captain’s Witch will be available in September 2019.

Books by K.D Dowdall

A review for The Stone Arch Secret

A light read full of mystery and romance. The story follows Lilly as she returns to Salmon Brook, Connecticut for a funeral. While there, she decides to look into her friend’s death, particularly an event from their earlier lives from which he never recovered. The trail takes her into the area’s dark history and a dangerous present day. I enjoyed the descriptions of an area I used to live that now will never look quite the same. Lilly and Noah were well-developed characters, and the villain was pure icky without any redeeming qualities. A fine effort from the author that readers of romantic mysteries will enjoy.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-DeMers-Dowdall/e/B00JO0Q4AM

And Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Karen-DeMers-Dowdall/e/B00JO0Q4AM

Read more reviews and follow Karen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7394355.K_D_Dowdall

Connect to Karen

Blog: https://karendowdall.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kddowdall 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/www.thewritersloft.net/

My thanks to Karen for permitting me to share some of the posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to explore them further.. thanks Sally.

31 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Ten Tips for Proof Reading and Editing (2017) by Karen DeMers Dowdall

  1. Excellent list! Being a skilled proofreader is worth its weight in gold. I’m blessed to be a decent speller, but I wish my proofreading skills were sharper. All of those rewrites give us plenty of practice.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Friday Finds #writetips #humor #qotd – Staci Troilo

  3. Excellent set of guidelines, Karen! I stopped using track changes in Word because even after accepting changes and saving as “final,” when I next opened the document, it was showing the tracked changes. However, this was a few years ago, so maybe that problem has been resolved?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – New Sunday Interview, Old Protagonists, Classic Music, Distinquished Guests and Pick ‘n’ Mix. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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