An important aspect of writing is proofreading. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a few things. I got a lot of good advice when I was a newbie to writing, so I try to pass it along when I can. Here’s some advice to get you on the right track.
It really helps if you know the proofreading correction symbols. You can find them by googling them online, or find them in your trusty gramar and punctuation handbook (Every writer needs one! I recommend Writer’s Inc.: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning, or The Blue Book of Gramar and Punctuation, but any will do.) I borrowed the chart above from http://www.ramonausd.net. I like to print a copy of my work to make corrections on.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with your wordprocessor’s functions. You can read about them online and some places even offer classes to teach you more about them.
Sometimes I proofread as I go, checking for typos and errors, but more often I wait until I’ve completed the first draft. I check back through my outlines and chapter goals to insure I didn’t leave anything out. I search for strengths and weaknesses in my literary elements and structure (e. g. plot, conflict, theme, characters, setting, dialogue, POV, denoument)* If there is anything I’m unsure of, such as punctuation or gramar, I do a bit of research before continuing on. Be sure you have a good dictionary and thesaurus on hand.
Once my second draft is complete, my work goes to the first link in my chain of editors, my husband. He reads it over to check for mistakes and to make suggestions. That’s when I make my third draft. Then it continues on to my sister and then one of my best buds for the same process. After my fifth draft, I go over it one more time to tie up any loose ends. I actually go through this process with every chapter. I’m very lucky to have such amazing people that love me and put up with me. 🙂 I guess some people might think this a bit overkill, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
If you don’t have your own personal editors available or even if you do, it’s a good idea to join a writing group. The feedback you get from fellow authors is invaluable. You can check with your library or look online for groups in your area. If there aren’t any, why not start one?
There are also online communities such as Authonomy, Wattpad, and Goodreads , where you can post your work and get reviews from other authors, as well as readers; an amazing opportunity. It’s priceless to be able to get perspectives from both sides. You’ll also make good friends you might not otherwise know. Who knows, you might even land a publishing contract.
As with almost everything, there’s more than one way to go about your proofreading routine. Find whatever process works for you and stick with it. You’ll want to have your book in it’s best form before you submit it to publishers and even more so if you decide to self publish.
*For more on story elements check out this site: absolutewrite.com