Of Rabbits and Editing

I have no witty or earth-shattering post this week. I was out of town all weekend, and then returned home to be sick for the past two days. So with that as my excuse, I am simply posting a picture. While this particular picture was taken a few months ago, it’s still applicable. Any time I edit (or sort papers for anything, really), my bunny has to help.

Happy reading, writing, and editing, everybody!

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Why Spell-Check Should Not be Your Only Editor

Thank God for spell-check, right? Without it, even the best writers would be spending more time with their dictionaries than actually writing. Or everything that’s published would be so riddled with mistakes that no one could read it. But spell-check isn’t everything.

Spell-check will alert us to simple typos and transposed letters (am I the only one who often types “hte” instead of “the” when I’m in a hurry?) Even the grammar-check that’s part of most word-processing programs is far from infallible. Here are some examples of mistakes that even the best spell-check software won’t catch, and why it never hurts to have another pair of human eyes to look over your work.

Homophone mix-ups

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

Example: My car is parked over their.

It should read: My car is parked over there. (There is a place, their refers to something that belongs to them). In this sentence, “their” is spelled correctly, it’s just the wrong word for this sentence.

Easily Confused Words

These can be homophones, or words that sound sort of similar, or simply a word that the writer isn’t familiar with so he gambles on something he thinks is right.

Example: Please except my apology.

It should read: Please accept my apology.

Except means “excluding,” or sometimes replaces the word “but” in a sentence. Accept means to receive or agree to. Since these words are almost-homophones, they’re often confused. Very different meanings, though – but something that spell-check won’t catch.

Easily mis-typed words

These are words that are spelled correctly, but are simply the wrong word for the sentence.

Example: I’ve loved dogs every since I can remember.

Every is a fine word – but in this case, the word should be ever.

Other correctly-spelled words that can often be mistyped: any instead of andthen instead of than or the other way around, food instead of good. I could go on, but these are some that I’ve mistyped on more than one occasion.

British versus American spellings

This one isn’t so much about typos as it is about consistency. “Colour” and “color” are both correct spellings – you just need to know which one is appropriate to use. My American word processing program puts the red “misspelled word” line under “colour” because that’s not the correct spelling for American English. So if you’re a Canadian writing for an American publication, or an American writing for a European publication, just remember which is the correct spelling for your market, and be consistent.

Example: I love the colour pink, and my favorite ice-cream flavor is strawberry.

As I said, either spelling is correct, but consistency is what is needed. Either have “favourite” and “flavour” match your spelling of “colour,” or change them all to the American standards.

Run-on Sentences

Example: We went shopping, then had lunch and later had ice cream – chocolate, of course – and my sister said that we should get together every weekend and do this and I agreed.

There’s technically nothing ungrammatical here, nor any misspellings. It’s just a simple run-on sentence. It would be easier to read as two sentences. If you’re done with the developmental edits of your work and just need that final polish of copy editing or proofreading, this is the sort of thing that a good editor will catch. Spell-check won’t.

Spelling inconsistencies

This one is sort of like the European vs. American spellings, as in there is no right or wrong. Consistency is what counts here.

Example: Sara vs. Sarah.

If you have a character named Sara, make sure that her name is Sara the entire way through the story. Readers might get confused if her name suddenly changes to Sarah in chapter seven. Again, spell-check and even a high-tech grammar-check won’t catch this.

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples to point out why everyone needs an editor or at least a few sharp-eyed critique partners. And I’m sure that I have provided such examples in many of my blog posts! I’m also not trying to bash spell-check or other automatic editing programs. Let’s just not forget the human element. A trained editor’s eyes and brain will still trump a computer program and help you to put your best writing forward.

End of Summer Update – My Writing Projects

So here it is, the end of the summer, and what have I accomplished? Well, more than I thought I would, and less than I thought I would.

To be fair, let me explain – I have no kids, and I do not work in the education field. Therefore, summer is no different from the rest of the year as far as my schedule or time commitments. All that changes is that it’s hotter. And humid. I hate humidity. But that’s another topic….

So, back to the current status of my writing projects. Here’s what I’m finding myself doing:


The current millstone around my neck is book one of my fantasy trilogy The Light-Whisperers of Kalevala. As I (slowly) progress through this editing/rewriting/more editing phase, I’m discovering that I’m very much a first-draft lover. I love cranking out that fine new tale, in all its roughness and over-verbosity, getting to know the characters and their shiny new world.

Editing, revising, and rewriting is a lot like mowing the lawn – an apparently never-ending task, boring, unpleasant in every way. But I like the results. Mowing the lawn is necessary if you don’t want your yard to look like an abandoned property, and editing and revising your story is necessary if you don’t want it to look like it was written by a second-grader with no talent.

But I’m happy to report that I’m past (most) of the parts of book one that needed the heaviest re-writes (I hope). Right now I’m doing more editing and revising that full-out re-writing; it’s a lot more like weed-eating the edges rather than mowing the whole stupid yard.


This is the stuff I enjoy. I’m working on the first draft of the second Light-Whisperers book, albeit sporadically. I’m trying to focus my time and energies on the revising of book one for the next month or so. I’m also still working out some major plot points of book two, and since I’m a big-time plotter, I’m not in a huge hurry to get to that blank spot in my outline.

I’ve also started working on a short story for a contest. It’s fantasy, of course. The challenge here is to keep it short. I’m one of those odd people who can bang out 100,000 words with (relative) ease, but I struggle when it comes to keeping it under 5,000 words. My “short stories” in my college English classes were usually small novellas.

In the blogging realm, I am feeling very accomplished because as of the time of this writing, I have several future entries done (full or in part). This saves me from that last-minute panic of “ohmygosh I publish every Wednesday morning and it’s now 11pm Tuesday and I have nothing written.” So now I can relax and publish panic-free for the next few weeks until I use up my back-stock and have to start writing again.

More editing

I am now also marketing myself as a freelance copy editor and proof-reader. I figure why not put my inner grammar nazi to good use? I’ve put up a page outlining what I do. Contact me if you’re needing a second pair of eyes for that last-minute polish, and please help spread the word!

So that’s been my summer. Writing, editing, heat, and humidity. And mowing the lawn. How was your summer?