By: Darby Karchut
At some point in every writer’s career, you’ll be asked to proof a final version of your work.
Sure, you’ll have various editors doing this, but you’ll need to be a part of it, too. After all, it’s YOUR name on the cover and you want it to be as perfect as possible.
Even at the manuscript stage, submitting a well-polished story will help your work stand out. It shows agents and editors that you are industry-savvy.
There is more to proofing a book, however, than just reading the story (aka body matter). It means examining literally every centimeter of the product. During this process, I get down to some serious detailing, checking for any and all mistakes, and taking copious notes—old school style.
Over the years, I’ve developed a checklist to make sure I don’t miss anything. I break the task into sections, moving from easy to more difficult; mostly to warm up and to feel like I’ve accomplished something. Remember, for each item on this list, we’re looking for spelling, grammar, punctuation, correct vocabulary, correct numbering and sequence, etc. Read stuff aloud—it helps like nothing else to catch mistakes.
Chapters and Pages
This sounds so easy and straightforward, but you and I both know this is blood-letting time. Re-reading a manuscript you’ve labored over for months or years can be downright nauseating. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time cringing, too.
But, I often find myself enthralled with the story, and a bit in awe of some writing I didn’t remember producing. Which is pretty cool. It is really okay, you know, to feel pride and satisfaction in your creation. If we writers (or painters or musicians or dancers) do not cherish our work, then our readers or viewers won’t either. So, proof away and be prepared to fall in love again.
Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter. A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy wrangling words. Her latest book (lucky number thirteen), DEL TORO MOON, released October 2018 from Owl Hollow Press. Visit the author at her website.