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  1. #1
    Pat Parker

    Those pesky homonyms and hyphenated words!

    I finished a historical novel a while back and after editing it myself umpteen times, I had about 8 people proofread it. I gave each person a packet of stickies and red pens to mark any misspelled words, typos or other errors, telling them to watch carefully for those pesky homonyms. Two proofreaders had masterís degrees, another spends hours on crossword puzzles (ugh), and one is a museum director. The rest were avid readers.

    I received the same response from all of them, that they had tried to correct the errors, but were reading so fast to find out what happened, they might have missed some. Of course this was good news as far as the suspense, plot, etc, but I wondered if all the errors had been found.

    I corrected the manuscript then gave it to another reader who had once worked at a newspaper. When I picked it up, to my horror, there were about 75 stickies on top. She had found at least ten homonym errors, silly things like tail instead of tale. The rest were hyphenated words. Obviously I didnít know those rules very well. I looked them up and there were about 30 rules for hyphenated words. Sheesh. I fell asleep reading the rules.

    She said when she began reading, she also read fast to find out what happened, then made herself slow down and mark all the errors.

    I read somewhere that one way to find those errors is to read the manuscript backwards. I donít know why, but I just couldnít motivate myself to do this.

    So I learned a very good lesson, how important it is to find that one person who will read and edit a 350 page manuscript carefully and find those errors a writer will often miss. I was lucky to find such a person.

    As for the hyphenated words, after fixing about 50 of them, I think I learned the rules through osmosis.


  2. #2
    Jane Abao

    Re: Those pesky homonyms and hyphenated words!

    Reading backwards is what I did to review my dissertation way back in the University.

  3. #3
    Pat Parker

    Re: Those pesky homonyms and hyphenated words!

    Jane, did that work?

    I really was going to try that, but I had a bunch of people bugging me to read the book so I just did it that way.

    I admire you for having the patience to do that.


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