Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Importance of Being Edited

Over the holidays, I've been spending a fair bit of time with my e-reader in hand. (Yeah, I've collected four of 'em. Call me compulsive.) And I have to say it's been ... educational. And entertaining. And a little sad.

"The cobblestone street was picturesque, but it was hell on his sports car's shock observers."

Shock observers? Really? Is that like little people strapped on the corners of the car keeping an eye on those shocks?

“It’ll have to be in the next hour. I have a wedding reversal this afternoon.”

That was a priest speaking -- not a divorce attorney. 

He was moving as quickly as if he’d been shot out of a canon.

Hmm. Maybe that was the same religious person?

Joe was having an outer body experience.

Yeah, being shot out of a cannon can do that to you.

She opened the cupboard and pulled out a vile of penicillin.

To treat that vile out-of-body experience, perhaps?

Maybe he was angry and had come to ball her out for not inviting him.

With a cannon ball, no doubt.

One knee peeked out of well warn blue jeans.

By all means, make sure those old Levis know they're in danger!

It was a totally bogus murder wrap.

And the detectives wrapped it up nicely...

Every writer needs an editor. Because if we don't already know the right word, then we have no reason to stop writing and look it up to make sure we haven't chosen the wrong one. 


  1. These are all great examples of grammar issues that a spell check program will NEVER catch. The point to be stressed is that editing is THE most important step in the writing process before publishing. Not just any ol' editing service either. Get a reputable editor! They are totally worth the investment. :D

  2. Lynda, spell check and optical character recognition are the subjects of another post entirely -- coming soon! :-)

  3. Thank you for bringing some humor into my day!

  4. So funny! {pads off to check WIP for similar hilarity}

  5. So true! We do need another set (or more!) of eyes on our words.

    Thanks for the smile.

  6. Some of these things look like autocorrect at work; Mac OS Lion and Mountain Lion have built-in autocorrect that you have to turn off manually.

    Still very funny.

  7. Leigh,

    I know where you are coming from, as I catch errors in books, blogs, newspapers, etc. even when I am reading for fun. I was just reading a blog, and noticed two errors, which I (hopefully politely) brought to the attention of the blogger. Maybe I am being pushy and obnoxious, but it is a habit of mine as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor.


  8. Were you reading things like e-mails or comments on Web sites where people are writing off the tops of their heads, or are these examples from more or less formally presented works (e.g., short stories, novels, nonfiction books, etc.)?

    1. I have noticed errata in everything from published books to newspaper articles, blogs, and of course take-out menus. I know the last one is usually because of a language barrier, but it still makes me go "hmmm." I wonder if there is a way to advertise my proofreading to restaurants who may need their menus or signs checked for mistakes. I imagine it could be a lucrative niche for me.

    2. These were from Kindle-edition books, presented as finished work.

      In some cases, the word choice may have been made by the auto-correct function -- and it's worth noting that those howlers are tougher to find when proofreading than ordinary typos are. In others, it's just the wrong word -- but as long as it's a real word, spell check just isn't up to the challenge.

  9. Wow, those are great! Thanks for the laughs :)

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  11. Thanks, everybody! I'm glad you're enjoying the post.

    My own worst howler pretty much tops all of these -- and I find it funny only because I found it before the book went live. The sentence was supposed to be something like, "The heroine ran into the hero's arms." Only optical character recognition turned it into "She ran into his anus."