Saturday, 7 February 2015

My editing tips (as a non-editor) - Part 2

I don’t have any formal typing training, so whatever speed I achieve depends greatly on my mood and the phase of the moon, i.e. there isn’t any to speak of.
Accuracy sucks and I hate those wiggly red lines my word processor uses to show me that a word has been misspelled.

With the spellchecker deactivated while I am writing, the chances of errors are huge to say nothing of all the other mistakes I make. So here are my 3 tips for editing this week:
  1. Run a spellchecker - especially if you are an editorial/typing idiot like me. I write in UK/SA English and thus consistent use of the “s" versus the “z" in many words are paramount. Check that your spellchecker use the same version of English throughout the document.
  2. Be careful when you use regional slang words that might be confusing or not directly clear from the context of the scene. In South Africa we use words such as “eish” and “ama-zing” that may not be the familiar or in the same context as it is meant to be used. I try to avoid those in my writing. If you use such words, make sure the context is such that the reader can deduce the meaning, or intention behind it.
  3. Incorrect words for the context may not be detected by a spellchecker. Words such as “life” for “live” or “from” instead of “form”. Even recently I spotted mistakes like these in a book, clearly overlooked by the author and the editor. It does not need to happen. I keep a list of these words that I perpetually mistype. Want a few examples? fro, form, fir, than, sate, desert, etc.
    When I finish the first draft of my book, I run a search for all the words in my list. Of course sometimes the context is correct. Then there is the 99% of the time where it is wrong. I can fix those without making my editor roll her eyes at me.
You can do all of these too. It saves time so your editor will spend his/her time on the important parts, and not fixing these mistakes that you can easily correct yourself.