Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Professional Proofreading?

   
Author Topic: Professional Proofreading?
ChrisOwens
Member
Member # 1955

 - posted      Profile for ChrisOwens   Email ChrisOwens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Has anyone considering sending a short story to a proofreading service before letting it go out the door?

Yesterday I poked around and found it would cost anywhere in the 80 to 120 dollar range. But that seemed way to much for something that's not garunteed to make the same return.

The websites did make some of the same points I've had running in my head, namely, being close to the work, often we see what we meant to type, not what's actaully on the paper. Too, I don't know about you, but I get sick of reading my own story.

Some days, I don't know how Robert Jordan does it. Then again, maybe he can afford a team of proofreaders.

28 days until the WOTF deadline and I'm having punctuation anxiety...


Posts: 1275 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
thexmedic
Member
Member # 2844

 - posted      Profile for thexmedic   Email thexmedic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One way to avoid being too close to the work is to read it aloud. (Better yet get someone to read it aloud to you but that's not always possible). You really will catch more stuff when you read aloud than when you read normally. Don't ask me why...
Posts: 205 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Elan
Member
Member # 2442

 - posted      Profile for Elan           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hiring a Punctuation Nazi to proofread your work would be useful, but it's only one half of the equation. A critique group can catch errors a normal proofreader might not. The advantage of running your piece through a multi-member critique group would be that fellow writers are looking for more than simple grammatical and/or punctuation errors. They will be looking for inadvertant switch in POV, narrative voice, and plot points.
Posts: 2025 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ChrisOwens
Member
Member # 1955

 - posted      Profile for ChrisOwens   Email ChrisOwens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The trouble is again, if I read it outloud, it might catch some stuff, but I'll read it with the voice, pauses and inflections that I intended, but it might not translate that way to someone else. For some reason when I'm reading somebody else's work my mind plays the same tricks, reading not what's on the page, but how my brain processed it, dropping, adding, or rearranging words. I've had my wife read part of a story aloud, the results were again mixed, but maybe I'll get her to do this one too.

Posts: 1275 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ChrisOwens
Member
Member # 1955

 - posted      Profile for ChrisOwens   Email ChrisOwens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Already been critted and I've processed some of the feedback. As often as early drafts get flagged on punctuation and typos, something not needed at that stage, this time around nobody really dissected it like that. Where are the sticklers when you need them?
Posts: 1275 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Beth
Member
Member # 2192

 - posted      Profile for Beth   Email Beth         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Chris, paying a professional proofreader might result in clean copy, but I'm not sure it's cost-effective.

One thing you might look into is the student services at your local college - my college had a "writing center" where they would help you with that sort of thing. They might be able to help you, or point you to students who would be interested in the work (and might cost less than established pros).


Posts: 1750 | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
HSO
Member
Member # 2056

 - posted      Profile for HSO   Email HSO         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Already been critted and I've processed some of the feedback. As often as early drafts get flagged on punctuation and typos, something not needed at that stage, this time around nobody really dissected it like that. Where are the sticklers when you need them?

To be honest, it gets real old real fast fixing other people's typos and spelling errors (sometimes without even a thank you for doing so in return). And if your early drafts are consistently full of typos or other kinds of errors, those who are your regular critiquers probably can't be bothered to point it out anymore. I used to critique line-by-line, fixing things like grammar and spelling, but no more. Waste of my time, really, and for no perceivable benefit for me I finally realized (ie, what do I learn from your typos? Nothing... nothing at all), unless someone is willing to pay me for it.... And who is?

So, for the proofing do-it-yourselfers out there (which is most of us), one thing that works really well for me is to do only 1 or 2 pages at a time. It's often best to print out your manuscript (preferably in manuscript format for easy reading) so you can mark up with a pen; this automatically forces you to see your story in a new way, forces a different way of thinking, too. But you can acheive the same effect by using a word processor's mark up tools if you train yourself to use them. Regardless, focus on one page (or two) at a time. Make that page perfect and then go from there. Proofing a whole manuscript in one sitting is daunting, or it can be. Do a page or two, take a break, do another.

Once you think you've made the entire manuscript perfect, then and only then you should ask someone else to look for typos. But don't expect people to do so on your critiques. It's your job.


Posts: 1520 | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pooka
Member
Member # 1738

 - posted      Profile for pooka   Email pooka         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You could always marry someone who likes to proofread.

P.S. Thirding on the value of printing out your work to proof it. I'm not sure why it works. It just does. You are in read mode instead of possibly write something mode.

[This message has been edited by pooka (edited June 02, 2006).]


Posts: 334 | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mig
Member
Member # 3318

 - posted      Profile for Mig           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
HSO's advise is very good. Do not try proofreading on a computer screen. That's just asking for trouble. Print out the work. Use a blue pencil or red ink. (I find that using a different color ink than what I usually use to write puts me in an "editing frame of mind.") Then proof one or two, but no more than five, pages at a time. By at a time, I mean per day or after a break of several hours. The important thing is to step away from it and do something else so that you can get back to it fresh.
Posts: 73 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mommiller
Member
Member # 3285

 - posted      Profile for mommiller   Email mommiller         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To comment on Chris Owens and HSO...

The only way I can critique is line by line. I find it impossible to comment on the contents of a story without commenting on how it is put together. The greatest architecture in the world is not going to last without good construction, in my opinion.

Granted, I am no grammarian by any stretch, but also too, I think we all look at stories that interest us, or that we feel comfortable working with to critique on.

We line by liners are out there, perhaps you just need to put your request in the first 13 in F&F.

[This message has been edited by mommiller (edited June 02, 2006).]


Posts: 306 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Novice
Member
Member # 3379

 - posted      Profile for Novice           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This may sound silly, but I was taught to proof-read a text backwards. I was taught word-by-word, but I've found that method misses a lot of punctuation errors. So I go sentence by sentence. It keeps you from getting lulled into the story, it makes you look at things with a new perspective, and it forces you to concentrate on one sentence at a time. It's brutal, and by no means failproof, but it works for me as good as anything else. I definitely agree that the manuscript should be printed.
Posts: 247 | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Novice
Member
Member # 3379

 - posted      Profile for Novice           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
And to answer the question you really asked, I don't know if it would be worthwhile to pay a professional editor to vet a short story. I think most editors are willing to forgive the rare lapse of punctuation if the story has real promise, as long as it's obvious you have tried to be thorough.
Posts: 247 | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I get sick of reading my own story.

I don't want to be a wet blanket, but it's hard to avoid when I read comments like this. I know, there are people who never read anything twice if they can help it. I don't know who those people are, but how many of them do you think are editors? Editors have to read the stories they buy over and over again, it's just part of the job.

If you have trouble reading the same thing multiple times, no matter how good it is, you suffer from a flaw that would cripple you as an editor and one that might not be too good for a writer either. If you have no trouble reading well written stories over and over, but can't read your own, then you need to fix your writing before trying to submit it.

I know, this is my own perspective on the matter. I know that there is a large portion of the market that seeks only novelty, many people will not read anything if they've ever read it before, even if they can't remember a thing about it. And editors are mindful of that segment of the market, they look for fresh, original stories that haven't already been written. That's why we have a chance as writers competing against the past greats, so I won't knock it too much.

But I cannot see how you can write well unless you can come to truly enjoy reading. I don't know that it's impossible, but it seems unlikely. Proofreading services are for checking the efforts of non-writers. They have an important service to perform, not everyone that has something valuable to publish is a writer, and I need someone standing between me and the next phrase like "the elected representatives whose actions will effect our children" :shudders at Clintonesque implications of above usage: As a free society, we give non-writers the chance to participate in the freedom of the press, and that's a good thing.

But you're a writer. Learn to love reading your own work, or learn to write work you can love reading. I don't care which it is you need to do, just do it.


Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I know I certainly need to proofread. Fairly quickly, I get sick of what I've written. But I try to proof and proof till I can't find anything more to correct. Then it goes out.

But then I'll read it, a year or so later, and find all sorts of gaffes, misspellings, and continuity errors, things I should have caught, but somehow didn't.

Maybe a professional proofer could have helped me---but, then, I'm such a tightwad that I doubt I'd spend eighty to a hundred twenty dollars for it...


Posts: 8273 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Writers do go through phases where they hate what they write, possibly because those are the times when their critical abilities have surpassed their writing abilities.

I try to encourage writers in such phases to just keep writing because if that's the problem, their writing abilities will eventually catch up and they won't hate what they write any more, or as much.


Posts: 8027 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmmm...I've gone through a lot of phases where I found writing very difficult, for various reasons (before I learned to type and had regular access to a computer, I couldn't imagine choosing to write). I've never gone through a phase where I hated my own writing, though. Somehow, that's very discouraging
Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Spaceman
New Member
Member # 9240

 - posted      Profile for Spaceman           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you intend to be a professional writer, you don't pay for readers, you cultivate them. It takes time and effort, but not money. You aren't writing to line the pockets of some proofreader who will take upwards of 30%. That's twice an agent's take.

Posts: 2 | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
djvdakota
Member
Member # 2002

 - posted      Profile for djvdakota   Email djvdakota         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Chris, don't underestimate the read-aloud approach. If it doesn't work for you to read it aloud to yourself, have someone else read it aloud to you as you follow along on another copy. You'll be able to instantly mark sentences that don't read clearly or that your reader stumbles over. Very often such stumbling is due to punctuation problems or grammar errors. Pay attention to them. Keep in your mind that the reader stumbles for a reason, and that the reason is likely due to your own error. Make it an exercise to find that error and correct it.

Second, if you have a story that you feel is 'ready' to send, you might consider putting it through a critique group with the following request:

"I would like a few readers to 'final draft' proof my story before I send it off to WOTF. Please limit comments to clarity issues and spelling/punctuation/grammar. Thanks, Chris."

Then be sure to reiterate this in your email to your readers. Because, like me, they might be forgetful and not remember exactly what you wanted from your post on Hatrack.


Posts: 1670 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
oliverhouse
Member
Member # 3432

 - posted      Profile for oliverhouse   Email oliverhouse         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You might also consider having your computer read it to you.

I'm on the road and working without references here, but in _Stein on Writing_ Sol Stein says he was involved in workshops where everything was read in an agonizing monotone. It worked because every flaw came out; the voice carried no information, so the words stood on their own.

Most computer speech synthesizers are about that bad. They notice every comma, and refuse the comma that you automatically insert orally, even though it isn't on the paper. And I'm sure they'll catch some misspellings.

There is a text-to-speech synthesizer bundled with Mac OS X, and you might be able to get Microsoft's "Narrator" to do what you want it to do, too.

That might be more pain than I want to deal with -- listening to my story under those circumstances might be like watching someone etherize my child. But if you're looking for a "reader", that's one option.

Regards,
Oliver


Posts: 671 | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2