The Problem with Errors

The temptation exists to think that because a novel is 300 pages long it’s fine if there’s 10 or 12 little grammatical mistakes left sitting around. But it’s absolutely wrong to have that mindset. This is something that I’m coming up against as I make the transition to a commercially available writer. These aren’t little stories I’m passing around to my friends, these are publicly released stories that I’m asking people to actually pay money for. Based on that alone, it’s not right to simply blow off those little errors that keep slipping through and just say that it’s “alright.”

Right now I’m deep in the third reading of The Eminence of Bardon Roket as I look for more errors and mistakes that have slipped past me during the last two readings. I’ve found quite a few. I’m actually reading the novel on a Nook, so I’m specifically taking it out of it’s normal context [i.e. my computer screen] and reading it while relaxing in bed. Even so, I’m still finding a lot of errors that I somehow managed to miss the last two times, where I read it in the same context. I don’t understand how I could have missed so many, but that’s the reality of working without an outside editor. I think, however, that this last reading will tease out most of the little things that remain.

Finding and fixing those mistakes and errors is something that’s become increasingly important to me, not the least of which because I tend to be a perfectionist about things and even very minor errors make me upset. But that’s not the only reason, it’s also the knowledge that other people are reading my books and reading these mistakes. It’s always the case that the little bit of negative criticism at the end of a really positive review somehow stands out more than anything else. I want people to think about how well written the story is, how interesting the characters are, or how detailed the locations are, not that I misspelled a word or messed up the order of words in a sentence. And that’s why I’ve worked extra hard on my second novel, making sure that it lives or dies on the quality of the story, not on a bunch of little things that shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Problem with Errors

  1. Ahh, don’t I know that feeling!! The curse of the mistakes!!

    I’m a translator and an amateur writer. I deal with texts 99% of my time and, like you, the things I deliver (when it comes to translations, at least) are things people paid me to do. Therefore, I check, check, re-check and re-re-re-check everything over and over again. I read it up to 10 times (depending on the text’s length, of course), and, still, if I re-read it for the 11th time, I know I’m gonna find something. It’s horrible!

    I hate the auto-complete function brain seems to have. It’s like it fills the blanks and skips details, even in spite of my best efforts to pay attention to those details, when I’m trying to find more errors. It sucks! That’s why I like it when I know my texts are going to be checked again by someone else, someone who didn’t read the thing 10 thousand times and didn’t write it, so the things my brain auto-completed when editing my texts, will actually pop up to them. But, most of the time, I’m my only editor, so I have to find things myself or risk sending them with stupid errors. :S

    There should be some kind of program to help you deal with this kind of thing, but even the best spell checkers miss stuff or think they are OK when they are not. OR change stuff on their own, just cause they think they should be some other way. ¬¬

    My heart goes out for you, really! I hope you manage to find all or almost all the mistakes your text may have. 😀

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