Friday, December 16, 2016

Heads up on Spell Czech

I dove into a manuscript with eagerness last week. It was a revision on a project I am pretty enthused about. Soon, too soon, it was clear that the manuscript had not visited with the Czech from Spell.

I no longer spell check manuscripts unless I'm getting ready to send them on submission (to editors). I expect writers to do that.

So I wrote a crisp note to this writer, asking the manuscript get a run through, and then have it sent beck.

Today I hear back:

When the ms hit 100,000 words, automatic spell check turned off. When it dropped back, I never got spell check back and I never thought to do it manually.
The writer was mortified of course, so mortified I think the email actually looked pink.

And, honestly stuff happens.

The writer will fix, will resend, all will be well.

Why do I mention this?

Because it's entirely possible I could have assumed the writer was a nincompoop and simply rejected the manuscript after the fifth typo.

If your word processing program turns spell check off after 100K make sure you spell check before you send stuff.

I have auto spell check turned OFF in my word program. I spell check EVERYTHING before I send as a matter of routine. (Yes, I see the irony given the number of typ0s on this blog.)

One of the very few things that is an automatic rejection is spelling errors and homonyms. Spell check won't catch the latter, but reading your ms aloud will.

Just a heads up for those of you querying or sending fulls, and most important: revised fulls.

60 comments:

Adib Khorram said...

I always Spell Czech twice—once in Mac Pages (which I write in) and then once in MS Word (which I send out manuscripts in). And I read it aloud, too.

What's most embarrassing is the (thankfully rare) occasion when things STILL slip through—or even worse, when I accidentally introduce a typo while correcting others!

Megan V said...

Thanks for the reminder QOTKU :)

I write in Scrivener, which isn't the best program for Czeching a spell, so I run a spell check after I convert the manuscript to a Word .doc. It's definitely a necessity and I can just imagine myself in Opie's position.

Kitty said...

You know you’re a writer when…

Theresa said...

I had no idea spell check could automatically turn off. Yikes.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I too have automatic spell check turned OFF and run it manually. The squiggles it performs for my various (perceived) spelling and grammatical failures are aversive to me, and highly distracting. And even here in this comment, windows, some manner of automatic spell check (my browser itself?) is like "Hey, aversive is spelled wrong!" It isn't. But I had to check. That breaks the flow, is a hard stop with whatever my word connection is. Know what else breaks the flow? This whining dog, but that has nothing to do with my browser or word processing program....)

nightsmusic said...

I'm honestly surprised you haven't gotten a query or ms in netspeak yet. U no, how teh kds txt these days?

I can't tell you how many comments I've seen on Author sites as well as in forums that are all spelled as if the submitter is on a phone. Some days, I think we're raising an illiterate society. And now that they'll no longer be teaching cursive where I live, I wonder how the next generation will be able to read things like, oh... The Constitution.

But what do I know?

I'm retiring today. I have no idea why I'm crabby. I should be happy...

Colin Smith said...

I HATE it when stupid spelling/grammar mistakes I thought I had caught turn up in the ms I send to betas. Thankfully, my betas usually point them out, and they are corrected prior to submission. But when I know I checked that doc over carefully for errors, it's plain embarrassing to have a beta correct a "there/their" or a "shes/she's." Why is it always the easy mistakes??!

An important hedz-up for those qweereeing or sending fools. :)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and I never did thank you all for your well-wishes for our (my wife's and my) 25th anniversary the other day. Y'all are so kind! :)

Colin Smith said...

Ooops! I still didn't thank you. THANK YOU!!! :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Spell check will be the devil's bitch with my new book as there is a shit ton of words not found in any dictionary but my own. Hopefully, the context will let agent know that a lot of words in my epic fantasy are not compliant with this world's spelling rules.

I did create my own dictionary to make sure all these unfamiliar terms are spelled consistently throughout but it will be a chore to make sure all the standard English language words are correctly used and spelled correctly.

I also have a bad habit left over from my schooling in London of alternating between British and American spelling - color and colour for example and I have to be super mindful of being consistent there. Someone on this blog once said they prepared their submission materials in standard American, British, and Australian English. No idea how they manage that. Oh boy.

DLM said...

YES, Word turns off its ABCs at 100k. Good reminder, though I spend enough time in my WIP (well over that count) that I get bewildered when the function works!

Being the child of a whole family of teachers, a bit retentive, and learning how to type in 1985-ish, I think are also advantages. I am a self-correcting typist, and "feel" errors most of the time. They do occur more often on the blog, though, I'm sure (those Reiders who stop by are welcome to tell me any time)!

DLM said...

Elise: hee! It's the same with certain histfic - when half the names are like Traguilla, Amalasuntha, Ragnachar, Pharamond ... I'm not sure spell check doesn't shut itself down by 25K words!

Robert Ceres said...

ACK! This is the worst post ever. Let me just say that if you are dyslexic even having a spell check feature doesn’t help much. The worst is when a hand gets miss-positioned on the keyboard. Yhsy’d whrn you hry drnyrnvrd likr yhid onr. (Translation, that’s when you get sentences like this one). If you miss the squiggly red line while you’re typing fast you’re dvtrerf. In those cases it can be quite difficult to remember what you meant to say. Sigh.

The only thing that works consistently against homophones is a careful proofreader. And after 88,000 words even the best proof reader can become completely inured through over exposure to things like then and than, their and they’re… When doing small edits reading sentences backwards seems to help. It is also surprising how many really questionable words (that you really don’t want to misuse) go right through that stupid spell check, yew, ewe being my favorite. This whole topic is a giant minefield.

In an abundance of Katherines the main character Colin has an obsession with anagrams. How about a main character with an obsession with homonyms?

And echoing what E.M. said. British spellings. Oh knooooooow!

InkStainedWench said...

Thank you, Janet, for the sharquely advice. I suffer from Editor's Hubris: I'm eagle-eyed when it comes to other people's mistakes, and not always as preceis when it comz to mie one.

RachelErin said...

I like to batch check for homonyms - meaning, I don't read through the story, I take a list of the most common offenders and use the find function. Then I can examine each usage. I also do this for commonly overused words.

The brain is better at doing picky, diagnostic tasks like this one at a time - checking for commas, spelling, and homonyms counts as multi-tasking.

I'm looking forward to copyediting - it means I'll be almost done!

Craig F said...

There have been many days of late that I find myself wishing for those cute little wiggly shit things in Word 2003.

I do that now because with this new computer I got stuck with Word 2016. In six or eight months I might be able to tell you if it is an improvement over 2003.

At the moment I am scared to dig in too much. I was able to import the sci-fi manuscript I was 30 something thousand words into fro that old version. 2016 loves to tell me it is not a real document, it is some kind of hybrid.

Things I have noted are that 2016 word thinks there should be a comma and a hyphen in every sentence. Maybe by the end of the weekend I will know if Spill Czech turns off at 100k.

InkStainedWench said...

Now that's a good suggestion, RachelErin.

Claire Bobrow said...

Ah, the wild and crazy Czech. I have a love/hate relationship with the Czech. It's saved me a few times, but I find it distracting (and downright pushy where grammar is concerned). It's better than Autocorrect on the phone, however. That thing is designed for maximum embarrassment.

nightsmusic: Happy Retirement! I can understand why you might be crabby. Transitions are tough. In the spirit of busting you out of that mood, I have a six-book series (and companion book!) I can recommend :-) It's not fantasy, as you guessed yesterday, but historical fiction set in 16th century Scotland. Or, perhaps a celebratory toast would do. I raise a giant mug of steaming coffee in your honor!

Donnaeve said...

I have Office 2013. Spell check is still working at 100K+, the length of THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET.

The homonym thing. UGH. I found I'd spelled soul as sole in that ms. Great. And if you're not paying attention, it's almost like being distracted to the same level as texting while driving when your brain automatically wants to you to type their for they're, and the like.

C M said...

I'm not saying the writer is a nincompoop....But the fix for this is sooooo easy. You split the document into two documents (both under 100K words), spell check individually, then paste them back together.

nightsmusic said...

Claire I'll take that coffee! Toss a little Bailey's in it, and I'll be a really happy camper after my third cup ;)

Joseph Snoe said...

Thanks for the prompt. I just ran Spell Check. My biggest “problem” it seems is omitting commas. Second is not capitalizing words. Third is duplicating words or phrases (such as “He put his his hat on.” Overall though, I did pretty well.

Julie Weathers said...

I write fantasy and historical (and suspense if you count Dancing Horses and I guess you would). Far Rider isn't my first fantasy. I've never had spell check turn off at 100,000 words in Word, but it will turn off if there are too many "errors".

With the odd spellings of names in fantasy and historical, that sucker throws its hands in the air and walks out in disgust every time unless you add the names to the dictionary as you go.

One thing I have found is that if you are reading along as Ivana or some other text to speech program reads your manuscript, you catch the grammar and spelling errors your were positive you and spell Czech caught. Plus, you catch the things that just sound off to the ear.

One thing I'm having to watch for in Rain Crow is the spelling of certain words. People still used the British spelling for some words and I need to be consistent in my usage when I'm having those characters write letters and such. For instance, Lee's horse was named Traveller, which is the British spelling. A lot of people would still use "grey" and "colour". It really doesn't matter which I use as long as I'm consistent. But, the devil is in the details.

Joseph Snoe said...

Totally off-topic. Hoover Library’s Southern Voices Festival here in the Birmingham announced its speakers list (all are authors).

Rebecca Wells is the keynote speaker on Friday night, February 24. I’m not sure if she’s just speaking or if she’ll do a part-speech, part-play based on her Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Personal fave, C.J. Box, is one of the nine Saturday speakers. I’m really excited about that. The other eight authors sound interesting, too: Lou Berney (the inspiration for last week’s writing contest), Chris Bohjalian, Julie Cantrell, Rabia Chaudry (a debut author of the only nonfiction book in the group), Kristy Woodson Harvey, Mary Kubica, Michael Farris Smith, and Karen White.

One of my dreams is to be asked to speak at the Festival one of these years. (Another is to get a ticket this year before they sell out.)

Susan said...

I had a moment of pride the other day when someone reviewed my book as "exceptionally edited." Reason being, I couldn't afford an editor this go-round, and so I edited the thing myself. I was meticulous about it: first a bunch of read-throughs on the screen, then I printed it out (twice) and went line by line with a ruler so I didn't get caught up in the story/content editing again, and then I ordered a proof copy of the book and read through it as a reader. I caught one double word (the the) and two British spellings. I was a lit major in school, and I think these spellings have seeped into my subconscious (grey not gray).

Sometimes it's easier to edit other people's work instead of your own because you get so caught up in the story you're trying to tell, you can miss a lot. Different sides of the brain are at work here. Here's an interesting study that was done about creativity and the brain (I liken editing as the copying work that was done in the study): This Is Your Brain On Writing

When it comes to blogs and emails, I always have a moment of panic after I hit publish or send, no matter how many times I read over it. And so I read over it again and either fix it (blogs) or say some variation of a curse word and move on with my day (emails). Depending on the mistake, the cursing can get lively.

b-Nye said...

Read aloud,Huh?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Even though I spell check and read out loud I find it hard to reach purrfection. (meow) And so says I regarding this vomment.

John Davis Frain said...

"One of the very few things that is an automatic rejection is spelling errors and homonyms."

While I understand, this surprised me a bit. Seems like an easy fix if the story is outstanding. But you probably have a history that tells you "multiple spelling errors and homonyms" consistently equals poor submissions overall.

Leads me to wonder: Are there other "very few things" that lead to automatic rejection? "Fiction novel," for example?

Susan said...

nightsmusic: Happy Retirement!

nightsmusic said...

Susan Thank you! Looking forward to it with fear and excitement...and now, people are coming to hug me and I'm doing everything I know how not to cry. I should be dancing a jig!

DLM said...

Susan, that feedback would give me a warm-fuzzy.

As does 2Ns using my own old typo, "vomment" ... I remember, I was SO SICK when I did that!

Remember, kids: it's a living language. You never know when a gang of Reiders will seize upon your errors, and love them and hug them and pet them and name them ... well, vomment.

HUZZAH and many happy returns, nightsmusic! My apologies, I failed to see that in a pre-caffeinated state. May it be a fine, creatively fertile time for you.

Colin Smith said...

John: As I understand it (yes, this is my traditional caveat when talking about anything agenty because, well, I'm not an agent, so I only know what I've read), agents will often reject a query, pages, or ms that has a lot of spelling/grammar errors because they expect the ms to be a huge time-suck to edit. The kind of editing work the agent doesn't mind doing is the kind of tweaking needed to help get the story from almost-there to submittable. The agent doesn't want to be spending a lot of time fixing things the author could have fixed with the help of spell check and eagle-eyed betas.

Julie Weathers said...

Nightmusic

Are you retiring by choice or will you be walking out slinging off armor as you go? Either way, congratulations.

I miss working terribly. I loved my job and the people and it was kind of cool being an old lady with a certification to run the big dog reach fork lifts if I ever needed to again.

Beth said...

Congratulations, nightmusic!

I've found a reading aloud program a godsend for proofreading, as well. Why does English have so many homomyms, anyway?

Lennon Faris said...

Hey, Janet, I think there's a zero in the word, "typo." Jk, jk.

My mss hovers around 99K and I thought my computer just kept randomly switching it off. Good to know this ridiculous feature exists.

When I was researching agents to query, I found a couple that had prominent typos on their websites. I couldn't bring myself to query them. I thought about sending them a quiet email but as I don't know them from Adam it felt way too pretentious. So, I just passed. Probably exactly how an agent would treat a manuscript with typos.

C M - I think what the writer meant in his/her reply to Janet was that s/he didn't realize that the spellcheck had switched off, not that s/he couldn't fix it.

nightsmusic said...

Julie I am retiring by choice. Not that I don't want to work, but 2-1/2 hours in the car every day is not what I want to do anymore. I might come back part time in the future, I might work for my boss at the company he owns or I might not work at all. I haven't decided yet. I just know that this winter, I'm going to enjoy my days in front of a roaring fire with a great book! :)

And I might even have time to work on my own for a change.

Beth and DLM, Thank you! :) Just hoping all those stories in my head start talking to me again.

Steve Stubbs said...

Excellent post.

You wrote:

“One of the very few things that is an automatic rejection is spelling errors and homonyms. Spell check won't catch the latter, but reading your ms aloud will.”

One thing that should be added to that is, no matter hpw many times one goes through a long MS, something new always comes into view that somehow concealed itself before. Apparently it’s a psycho-illogical phenomenon. If you’re read it over Too Many Times (the TMT principle) it is possible to get to where you can’t see the black marks for the white space. It could be a sign of slipshod, slapdash, el-crapo workmanship. But not necessarily. Sometimes u is just proof that you can get wet brain without ever touching alcohol.

Bad writing tends to be MORE visible on a re-read. Unfortunately during the re-write there is a risk of introducing new typos.

And around it goes.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I'm deep in editing throes so shan't comment longer, but wanted to say belated congrats to Colin for the other day, and congrats to nightsmusic as well :D

On topic, Middle Grade Mafia recently gave 'EditMinion' a shout out. I like their homonym identification feature... and their cute monster! Only short samples at the moment, but still...

Happy writing, everyone!

Lennon Faris said...

Also, congrats, nightsmusic! That is wonderful!

Theresa said...

Congratulations, nightsmusic! It's exciting to have the possibilities ahead of you.

I always write in separate chapters, each one with its own file, so that's probably why I never noticed the automatic shutoff. But no matter how often I run the spell check, do my own proofreading, and ask someone else to read it through, something untoward pops up.

Donnaeve said...

Congrats, mightsmusic!

Joe Snoe I've met Michael Farris Smith and Kristy Woodson Harvey, and both are great. You'll really like MFS - make a point to go hear him if you can. I'm envious at that list of speakers, and wishing I could be there, but, I'll be in MS that week - doing an event at..........................Square Books!



Donnaeve said...

Ha! I was going to delete that comment, but I'll let it stand and see if anyone else giggles at it like I did.

Julie Weathers said...

Nightmusic

Even by choice, you could walk off slinging your clothes off as you left. It would be kind of dramatic. Of course, they might not invite you back. I don't think the guy who took off everything but his underwear and rode around on the conveyor belt was welcome to return. It was amusing watching security chasing him, though.

french sojourn said...


Nightmusic: Congrats....2 1/2 hour drive. Yikes!
Probably not going to miss that. I'm happy for you. Cool.

DLM: Vomment is definitely worthy of remembering, and using.

Joseph Snoe said...

Donnaeve

If I'm lucky enough to get a ticket before they sell out, I'll hear all nine Saturday authors. They have two 'rooms:" a really nice Library Theater and a more informal Library Plaza.

Four authors will speak in one room in the morning and in the other room in the afternoon. The other five will do the reverse.

The Keynote speaker speaks only in the Library Theater on Friday night so it'll be harder to get a ticket for her presentation.

I'm sure you're thinking of this already, but it'd be a great experience if you can get yourself invited to speak there in 2018.

stacy said...

Congrats, nightsmusic. Sounds like you have a great plan!

Donnaeve said...

Joe It would...not sure what will be in the works by then but it sounds great.

John Davis Frain said...

Donna,

I'm trying to see what you were laughing at, and I'm guessing it's this:

"I'll be in MS that week."

At first, I thought you meant you'd be deep into writing your manuscript that week. Then I realized you meant you'd be in Mississippi that week. But one could interpret it to mean you'd be in Michael Smith, which of course, carries a whole different meaning.

Regardless, I'm tipping my cap to Julie Weathers, then tipping my hour glass over and shutting off social media. Hello, word count...

Claire Bobrow said...

Manuscript: I think Donna was giggling at "mightsmusic," with an m...

Donna: Square Books in Oxford, MS? Love that place! Have a great trip!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Let it snow....

Colin Congrats to you and your wife on your anniversary yesterday.

nightsmusic 2.5 hours a day? Uff-da. How great to regain those hours (plus more) to use as you wish.

And to add another happy note, I'm picking up my car! Yay. It was in an accident (sitting in a parking lot) on Dec. 1 and finally it is ready to come home from the body shop. It's time to dance! Well, with a shovel as my partner.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Nightmusic, I'll cry for you. I want to retire but can't...okay here's tears for you.

John Davis Frain said...

Claire,

You're right, of course. I saw that in bold. But I thought it'd be more fun to get a rumor started about Donna and her fellow author. Probably the smart thing to do is just shut up and mind my own business.

But where did that ever get me?!

Claire Bobrow said...

John: I excel at stating the obvious, but it's lots more fun to start a rumor. Why didn't I think of that? :-)

kdjames.com said...

I was not aware of this charming feature. I tend to either repeat words or type so fast I leave them out entirely and, since in both instances the words are spelled correctly, spell czech is not always helpful. Good to know it can be rebellious.

Nightsmusic, congratulations! I'm guessing you'll feel a good bit less grumpy on Monday morning.

Colin and RachelErin and Lisa, congrats on the anniversary/birthday/return of car milestones!

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

1. Ditto what Kae said about editminion.org. It pings homonyms. And cliches and other neepery.

2. It is the epitome of foolishness to use a single Word doc for a full-length novel ms. It was not designed to be used thus. Use the Master doc feature with each chapter (or scene) its own document. Our better yet, find software like Scrivener or yWriter, both of which were designed to handle novels.

nightsmusic said...

Thank you to all of you for your congrats. I know come Monday, when I actually have time to bake and clean at my leisure to get ready for Christmas, I'll be smiling like crazy. For now, it's bittersweet.

Julie, I am imagining someone in underwear on a conveyor belt. That had to be horrific at the time and hysterical in afterthought. I truly love the group I worked with, they were all very good to me and took great care of me so they will all be missed.

It's snowing like mad outside right now so I'm going to turn the tree on, sit quietly in front of the fireplace with my nog and rum, and get my maudlins out of my system. Tomorrow, I start new :)

Thank you again to all. You are one of the loveliest landing strips on the net ;)

MA Hudson said...

The sad thing about typo's is that the disruption to the reader experience is so monumentally out of proportion to the innocence of writer's oversight. Kinda like road rage. When someone swerves into your lane your brain automatically assumes that driver is selfish arsehole who deserves to die a slow and painful death, when really it was probably just someone trying to avoid a pothole that you can't see.

Em-Musing said...

Grammarly spell checks and a whole lot more. Or better yet, Scrivener.

Panda in Chief said...

Yet another spammy comment at 9:39 from Doc Vargas.

Cynthia Paige Aaron said...

Great post, and lots of great suggestions.

Nightsmusic: congrats on your retirement. What a beautiful picture you paint of sitting in front of a roaring fire, book in hand. And snowing outside, too.

The most inconvenient thing about working full time, is there remains precious little time for writing. To make that promise to myself, that of "becoming" an author, is huge, and such a challenge.

The most inconvenient thing about writing, is I want to be doing it instead of working full time. But that may not come for a while. On my 2 to 2 1/2 hour commute, I am usually dreaming of stories, or adding to the ones I have started. That way I feel as if I am tilting the hours in my favor.

I so enjoy reading this blog and all the comments!