Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update #11 #10**-proof reading with Mr. Spell the Czech

I'm finding some real oddball phrases in your manuscripts:

If she wanted to draw my foul, she'd have another thing coming

Retched world.

hurling locomotive

I'd of known him 

fare skinned

Finding these before you send a manuscript on submission (or to a contest) is a Very Good Idea. I'm assuming you know, once you see these highlighted, that there are errors.  The trick is to get rid of of them BEFORE I see them.

Two strategies:

1. Let your manuscript sit for at least a week.  Don't fiddle with it, don't look at it, don't open it, don't  do anything.  Let it sit. Then go back with fresh eyes. It's even better if you can do this twice.  Print it out and read it with a ruler under each line.  This forces you to see every word. When you see the words that are wrong, then you fix them.

2. Read your manuscript out loud.  This can take a couple days.  You'll pronounce the words, realize that "think" and "thing" are not the same and fix them.  I'd have known him is I'd've not I'd of.

Here's why this is important: words are your tools as a writer. When you use them incorrectly, it's not unfair for those of us on this side of the process to use that to evaluate how you write.  Also, this is one of the things you have TOTAL control over.  There are lots of factors in getting published that you don't have any control over.  Don't sabotage yourself by hurrying.

**yes there is a good story about this.


NotaWarriorPrincess said...

"The Impotence of Proofreading" (vaguely nsfw, but FUNNY):

Angelica R. Jackson said...

The following is not an advert, just a website that I found through a writer friend: Auto Crit is a wizard that lets you paste your text and it searches for overused words, misused words, cliches, repeated phrases, etc. It absolutely will not take the place of a real live crit partner, but it catches potentially embarrassing gaffes like these. I think of it as another tool in the writer's toolbox. You can use it for free for a year, btw.

Mister Furkles said...

Here is a website for checking your knowledge of usage:

But Janet, the hurling locomotive was Sally, one of Tomas Tank Engine's friend. Sally Freight Train got a bad load of coal and it upset her boiler.

And it wasn't morning sickness either. Some engines will make up the worst gossip.

Janet Reid said...

Oh dear godiva. The link from NotWarriorPrincess might just be the funniest thing I've seen all week.  NSF ...if only for the guffawing when you should be garamonding.

Brent Stratford said...

Reading a story aloud is so helpful. It not only helps with finding those types of mistakes (my favorite mistake is “sorted details” rather than “sordid details”) but it also helps identify problems with voice. I can’t count the number of times I have read my mss aloud and said to myself, “That doesn’t sound like something she’d say.” Listen to the shark – reading aloud is one of the greatest tools in a writer’s toolbox.

Jane | @janelebak said...

I just want to point out that in my family and friends (and yes, English was my first language) we always said "another thing coming." The first few times I saw "another think coming," I thought that was in error. :-) So please be gentle on that writer because it might have been intentional.

FoolPlusTime said...

I've got a list of common homonnym/phones/others I make and always spend a little quality time with the ctrl and F keys before I send stuff out.

Time consuming? Yes. Better than than having the phrase "he took his keys out of the bowel"? Oh yes.

Jamie Wyman said...

@Jane, usually it is quite obvious when a writer is making mistakes as part of a character's voice. If it's not repeatedly used or commented on, though, it looks like the author just messed up.

Reading aloud is also helpful for finding those clunky sentences. In your mind they sounded like gold, but if you try saying them they twist the tongue like you're French kissing a contortionist.

Adam Heine said...

I always thought it was "another thing coming," too. A Google search shows some pretty severe confusion on this actually. I bet it's a regional thing.

Sarah Nicolas said...

Yeah, everyone I've ever known says "another thing coming."

Nathan Rudy said...

I woodn't of thought "I'd've" was exceptable.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Picture me figuring it out:

*Shakes fist*

"If you think that's ok, then you've got another thing coming!"

Well, damn. It makes sense to me. The other way leaves me scratching my head. Like a Dr. Seuss book.

"I have a Think in my pocket. And a Gloo in my shoe."

That doesn't make any sense, and no, those were not the illustrious words of Dr. Seuss himself, but you get my point.

Don't you?

If you don't, you've got another THING coming.

Ok, I'm done now.

kregger said...

I've made my share of homonym errors. Some are hard to see. I've used Auto Crit and it is a valuable tool. But the homonym locater/locator highlights so many words it is better to start from scratch.

Sometimes, even when spelled correctly, word usage can be wrong or confusing. I reviewed an excerpt on the ABNA/Creatspace website for a contestant. I gave advice to increase the punch or hook in the first 250 words, use less passive writing, I may have left out using fewer adverbs, and oh, by the way, your word "axes" to reference the metaphorical world shift the MC experienced seemed like an auto spell-check function gone haywire. To which the writer replied, the plural of axis is axes. So the writer was correct in her usage, but failed in her communication and in the adage, "Easy reading is hard writing."I believe that quote comes from James Patterson.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I'm prolly not aloud to say anything about this, bing the world's worst tipist but I will any way. My advice is to get pregnant, birth a perfectionist dotter hoo can type and spell perfectly, and let her look it over.

Janet has been shaking her head at my typos since what? 2008? Or so or more or something ...

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear M. Furkles:

My comment on your use of is: Cougars Rule; Huskies Drool. (Ducks waddle.)

Thanks for your kind attention and for using the wsu website.

Robin Ruinsky said...

Only one question.Is Update #10 being kept in an underground bunker in Roswell?
Or is update 10 being released as an e book for Kindle?

"Update #10: the Lost Update"

Very X-Files.

Wry Wryter said...

Awe jeez, my tools are bent, the handles are broken and chipped I'm going to Sears on Saturday morning.

Another update and I won't be able to sleep. I feel like I handed in a really bad, really long term paper. Please grade on a curve.

The Writer Librarian said...

One I often run into is accidentally typing the letter "s" when hitting Ctrl + S to save my changes. Found one of these on my manuscript last night. Le sigh.

Loved the Taylor Mali video-he has other gems also-especially this one

Heather Hawke said...

I've made a guttersnipe character use bad grammar. It would be strange if she spoke perfect English. I like the mangling grammar option better than massacring words (e.g. I ain't goin' ta) - a bit more subtle and I hope less distracting. So, I can imagine using "I'd of known him."

Steve Stubbs said...

You remind me of a phrase I saw somewhere when I was a kid: “You’ve got another think to thunk.” I think it was in a comic book, and it was not a mistake on the part of the writer. I mention it because I still remember it after all these years, and there are millions of grammatically correct word usages I have read in that time that I do not remember.

The familiar is seldom memorable, and the memorable is seldom familiar.

Adele said...

Similar phrase, two slightly different meanings:
"If you think [whatever] you have another thing coming" = "If that is what you think, then your experience of that situation will be vastly different from what you expect"
"If you think [whatever] you have another think coming" = "If that is what you think, then you ought to think again."

I've always thought of "...thing coming" as the original phrase, with "...think coming" as a witty variant used in a more narrow context.

Rick said...

I've always thought "another think coming" was an error, too, and it confused the hell out of me when reading Harper Lee.

I always write it as 'thing'. COME AT ME, BRO.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

"Another think coming" is, strangely, "correct." BUT it is idiomatically "correct" AS a grammatically "incorrect" phrase(I teach this stuff, graduate level; History of the English Language, Modern American Usage, so bear with me. Or better yet, come take a class!) In provenence it's a mostly American Southern idiom, probably about as old as the Civil War, with BOTH of Adele's meanings: you are going to experience something to change your mind about what you think, AND therefore, the thought ("think") you have now is insufficient. The lack of grammaticality of using "think" to mean "thought" is not just part of the point, it is the point: *I* am using this word out of its grammatical province to demonstrate how very dramatically you must change your previous thinking (and because it sounds better/is funny).

And yes, explaining the joke/idiom at this kind of length is a surefire way to kill its impact, annoy people, and create awkward conversation pauses. This is why I get bruised shins when my husband and I go out to eat with friends and somebody asks an innocent language question.

Pragmatic Linguistics: Be smart! Don't Start!

(But I will be using "to garamond" as a verb from now on.)

MittensMorgul said...

I thought I replied to this earlier, but I was out and the free wifi site I was using clearly ate my post.

First of all, what happened to Update #10? Was that intentionally left out to prove the point that we all make mistakes? Is it supposed to drive home Update #9's message?

Second, I used to think "another thing coming" was correct, too (Thank you very much, Judas Priest).

If you think you can swim with sharks, then you've got another think coming. Meaning, your original "think" was clearly wrongheaded. Alternatively phrased: think again, Chumley!

Shaunna said...

Hey, thanks for the introduction to Taylor Mali, NotaWarriorPrincess. As a former English teacher turned mother and writer, it was great to discover someone who champions that which I treasure -- and so very eloquently, too.

We all make mistakes. *confession* I recently found the misuse of homophones reign/rein/rain and sole/soul in my own manuscript. The sin is in thinking we are so immune to them that we don't have to follow the wise advise to read our manuscripts aloud, in hard copy, multiple times.

Sarah said...

Writer Librarian, I do something similar. I can't figure out how to close a dash ending quote in Word and it drives me crazy. For instance, "You've got another thi--" It always turns my quotations marks backwards, so I insert the letter t (no idea why, just my arbitrary letter) to close it. "You've got another thin--t" Then I delete the "t" to make it work. I miss them sometimes, however and when re-reading I find random "t's" throughout my manuscript. Ugh.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Sarah! I love that you posted that! I do it too, but my go-to letter is a. No idea why. When I proofread, I find random a's all over the place!

MittensMorgul said...

I always seem to end up with random "d's" throughout my writing. When I edit, I scroll with my right hand on the down arrow key, and leave my left hand resting on the "home keys." Maybe the ring I wear on my left middle finger is extra-heavy or something, or maybe because that finger is longer than my other fingers, but I always seem to accidentally depress the d key at random spots.

I end up with a sentendce like this one, with a fewd extra d's. Luckily, spell check catches most of them, and I usually catch the rest (I hope).

T.L. Bodine said...

Oh's *not* "You've got another thing coming"? That's strange and confusing.

JS said...

"Another think coming" is the original phrase. This is well documented. It's one of those idioms (like "OK" and "nuff sed") that came out of a brief fad for mangled English in comic newspaper articles---the joke is that "think" is substituted for "thought" by the less-than-eloquent speaker.

Of course people eggcorn it to "thing" because that makes more sense to them than the ungrammatical "think".

As for "I use 'I would of' to denote an ungrammatical speaker," that's illogical. The speaker is saying "I would've." Misspelling that with an ungrammatical homonym doesn't make sense. Yes, Mark Twain did it with Huckleberry Finn ("sivilize" is the most egregious example that comes to my mind) but that doesn't make it OK.

JS said...

While we're on the topic of "common errors" may I cry out from the depths of my editor's heart on the following:

When you take control of a project, you take the reins, not the reigns.

The person who leaves someone money in a will is a benefactor, not a beneficiary; a beneficiary is the recipient of the inheritance.

"Nonplussed" and "unfazed" are opposites. Someone who is "nonplussed" is taken aback, completely at a loss for what to do or say; someone who is "unfazed" is able to take events in stride.

The Writer Librarian said...

@Sarah and @Jessa: So glad I'm not alone in this. When I revise, not only do I need to worry about overall plot developments, characters, readability, macro- and micro-edits--there's also inevitable human error on top of it.

Bill Plante said...

What's this retched world came to?
Mr. Spell the Czech
and known Ms. Read the Agentina.

Judith Gonda said...

I'm with Robin and Mittens wondering what happened to Update #10. Is it a trick to test our proofreading abilities or an ironic joke?

I was raised in CT and always heard it as another "think" coming, usually spouted by the nuns in my parochial school when they reprimanded a student.

Rayna said...

When my Memee said there was "another thing coming", you better believe there really was another thing coming! And typically, you didn't want to be there when it arrived.

Terri Coop said...

Y'all . . . I win. I am a freelance proofreader for a small press that publishes . . . (wait for it) . . . erotica.

Sample notes (the ones that are SFW):

"Is (character) standing in front of the saddle or is he bound to it? This is unclear."

"POV shift as (character) is now expressing his reaction to the whip, rather than (character's) delight at using the whip as in previous sentence. Please clarify."

"Are you sure 'aside' is the word you want? Awkward construction."

And there are a lot of paired adjectives. I had to visit Grammar Girl to learn the comma rule for coordinate and cumulative adjectives.

Why are you all looking at me like that?


JAOtis said...

The Learner's Dictionary (Merriam-Webster) lists "another thing coming" as an informal way to "say that someone is wrong or mistaken." The Learner's Dictionary is the dictionary used to study English as a second language. It's likely that MW propagates "another thing coming" because it is so common that it's acceptable. Thanks for that, Judas Priest. I humbly submit that "think" is traditional, perhaps formal. And correct. "Thing" is informal, maybe even slang. But also correct. Only the character and context can determine which to use.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NotaWarriorPrincess said...

I {heart} Terri Coop. Those are hilarious.

Also: Shaunna, go listen to Mali doing "What Teachers Make" and "Undivided Attention" if you haven't already. They'll make you want to stand up and cheer!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Mr. Furkles:

Thank you for using the wsu web site. As you know WSU provides world-class education, even if at least one graduate of that fine institution can't type worth beans.

As a side note, let me observe that Cougars rule and Huskies drool. Ducks just waddle. (I got lost in Eugene once. I've never forgiven them.)

Janet Reid said...

Cougars are pussies. All self-respecting Huskies know THAT.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Janet,

Proximity to ward 6 at the University of Washington Hospital tends to give Huskies delusions of grandeur. … And every pixie knows that

Judith Gonda said...

Loved NotaWarrior's YouTube rec too. So funny and clever. How on earth did he manage to memorize all that?

Janet Reid said...

Dear Pixie,

There's a reason Cougs aren't allowed in the city.

Dianne said...

Your tips on getting a ms in final revision state are helpful. One more strategy is use text-reading software to listen to someone else read your work aloud (there are many free and paid software programs that do this). It might not catch homonyms, but you catch other errors. More importantly, it helps with the style of your writing, the flow of a sentence, word choice, reducing awkward phrasing. Just something else to add to the tool box.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Janet,

Not allowed in the city? pfutt!

Janet Reid said...

Trust a cougar to hide out at an auto-repair store instead of Willingham's Grill. Or even Denny's.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

So ... this courgar was on a diet.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Denny's? Dang, a Husky will eat anything ....

Sara D'Spain said...

I'm going to chime in and embarass myself - I unfortunately used the wrong "waist" in my MS. I corrected it on my hard copy, later went to correct it on the computer, and found it fine. Apparently I looked at the wrong scene, ugh.

So "his hands around my waste" was not exactly the image I was going for.