3 Techniques to Proofread Your Story

3 Techniques to Proofread Your Story

 

 

Proofreading isn’t fun, it’s necessary

After I complete a story, I just want to be done. Don’t you? I mean, to develop a story from mind to paper takes time and after spending a lot of it you want to kick your feet up and move on. You figure to have someone else proofread your story, since you’ve heard that it is better to have a fresh pair of eyes look at your manuscript.

In the beginning of my writing career, I felt that way. I figured that once I completed a story I needed someone else to look at it for proofreading. I thought that proofreading my own story was not only a waste of time, but toxic to my story’s overall success.
That is not the case. In fact, I have found that it is the complete opposite. No matter who you find to proofread your story. Even if they offer some of the best proofreading services, nothing beats you reading through your manuscript yourself for errors before you send it to a proofreader.
Think about it. No one knows your story as well as you do. So when proofreading your own manuscript, you are more capable of finding things that should be there, but aren’t, such as certain dialogue and narrative. A proofreader will only be able to correct what is there and if they are capable enough to feel something is missing in the manuscript, will they be able to correct it as well as you would? I don’t think so.
So once you hit the period button after the last word of the last sentence of your story. Please don’t send it to a proofreader right after. Take the time to proofreader yourself before you do. That way you will be able to correct mistakes yourself and also you will be able to become more knowledgeable of what is actually on paper. That way when the proofreader sends your story back you will be better prepared to make the right corrections.
Here are three techniques I use to proofread my story:
1. Print your story out on paper
Despite the fact that you wrote your story on a computer, that doesn’t mean you should proofread your story on it. Give your eyes an easier time since even proofreading a short story is never a quick job. It is also harder to concentrate reading on an electronic device and with proofreading, concentration is key. Ask yourself, is it easier to stay focused on a paperback novel or an ebook?
2. Split the story up by scenes and not chapters 
This is easiest to do when you have to proofread your short story, novelette or novella since they aren’t separated by chapters. When you have a novel, try splitting up your proofreading by scenes. By doing this you will be able to focus in more detail on the story itself. It will be easier to catch complex flaws such as theme, tone and pacing. Don’t you hate stories that start strong and have a long boring middle? Yea? How about a story that takes a long time to reach its catalyst? Also, a yea? Then don’t write one.
3. Focus on three things at a time
You have a story that you want polished. Then focus on up to three things at a time when proofreading. It is up to you how many times you want to read through your story, but keep in mind that each time you do you will always be doing a generalized proofreading. This means you will be checking for standard errors. However, I also focus on three complex things at a time when proofreading each time I go through my story. So the first time I look at the pacing, theme and tone. The point is not to overload yourself. For instance, I like to focus on not only what is said in dialogue and narrative voice, but how it is said. I would not be able to do this if I didn’t break down my story. I have found it impossible to do too much at once.

Tell me what you think and have a great one.