I’ll start off by apologizing for not blogging more regularly this month. I still feel like it’s only the first week of March, everything is a blur of driving, robots and work … lots of work.
But enough about that. You came here to read about my proofreading methods - and yes, I’ll admit mistakes still slip through. It’s not a foolproof process, especially not when reading my own work. I hear that from many writers. But there is one trick a very sharp, and very good proofreader taught me.
Actually it’s two tricks. The first one is to read the text more than once; at least three times. The second trick is to use a different color piece of paper, folded over and use it as a reading guide.
Let me explain further with an example of a translation job:
After I finish a job I’ll often let it sit for a day - don’t tell my client or they’ll shorten my deadlines! - so the text will have a chance to fade a little from my mind. Then the next day I’ll read through a printout with a colored pen or pencil and start marking the glaring errors and punctuation I may have missed.
Next, after another cup of tea, I’ll enter the changes in the computer. Then I take a folded letter-size piece of paper and go through the piece, line by line. By holding the paper over the other text, I read it no longer as a whole story, but I’m reading it line by line. And when reading it line by line it’s easier to see mistakes our brain would normally correct for. Yes, it is time consuming, but it leads to a better finished product.
After that I let it sit for a few hours, or maybe just an hour depending on my deadline, and then read it through one more time. You might think that’s redundant, but there have been many times when I’ve caught mistakes or just found clumsy sentences that could be better. Only then will I sent it off to my client.
Now to apply that rigorous methodology to my novels!