I know for a lot of writers, the editing and revising phase is the most painful. And then, to twist the knife a bit...just when you think your work is ready to be released into the wild, you have the dreaded proofreading stage. No more, I tell you! No more!

Proofreading doesn't have to be torture. Honest. I worked as a professional proofreader and copy editor for a number of years, and there are some simple tricks I used when reviewing copy over and over again.

1. Read the text backwards. And no, I don't mean sounding out the words in reverse. Instead of reading the first word in a sentence and moving through to the last, read the last one first. This technique allows you to focus on each word instead of skimming over a sentence you've read a thousand times before.

2. Print out the text and review it on hard copy. There's something about proofreading on screen that just doesn't work well.

3. Read the text out loud. Don't rush through it. Really focus on each word and the punctuation. Does anything sound stilted? Jodi Meadows uses a variation on this technique: she has a program on her iMac that reads her text aloud so she can identify problems.

4. For your own convenience, get to know some basic proofreader's marks. It's a lot easier to scribble "#" for a space than "space".

5. If you have a reliable, knowledgeable friend who can proofread for you, by all means ask them to. But notice the keywords reliable and knowledgeable. For a proofreader, you want someone who knows their grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules. You need to be able to trust that if they add a comma, they're fixing a problem and not creating a new one.

Proofreading isn't hard, not really. It just takes time and patience and a willingness to look over your work one...more...time.


TOPAZ status: I've been posting some of the rewritten chapters on my writer's forum to moderate reception. I think the general consensus is that the chapters are better than the previous ones, but there haven't been any screams of adoration for the new versions. I'll have to contain myself. :) Writing continues!