Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Importance of Proofreading: Guest post by author Dee Nicholls

Dee Nicholls is the author of the new book, Hurricane Day. She is a guest on my blog today to talk about why it's important for authors to proofread their work rather than relying on spell check to edit their manuscripts.

The Importance of Proofreading
By Dee Nicholls

Two years ago I sat down with a pile of paper and a pen to write my first book! When I was about half-way through, my husband took me out and bought me a laptop, and my best friend came over and taught me how to use Microsoft Word. I thought it was the greatest thing ever invented! Not only was it much faster to type than to write by hand, it even corrected all of my mistakes. At least that’s what I thought.

I finished my book, all 90,000 words of it (which was down to 55,000 by the time it was published) and sent it off to my beta reader. Renee is the same friend who taught me how to use Microsoft. We’ve been best friends for a very long time, and she knows she can be brutally honest with me. The conversation went like this:

Renee:  “If I see one more comma, I’m going to rip my hair out of my head.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Renee: “Did you read through this manuscript?”
Me: “Of course. Is something wrong?”
Renee: “I just counted eleven commas in one sentence!”

Oops. Lesson learned: When you read through something, especially something you’ve written, edited and read a million times, you see what you expect to see. My mistake was in hitting the comma key every time I paused to think, without even realizing it. Then when I read back through it, I still paused in the same places so the comma didn’t seem out of place.

When I began working as a proofreader for a small publisher I realized proofreading is MUCH different from reading for enjoyment, or even editing. You are not looking at content, or losing yourself in the story, you are reading each and every word, punctuation mark, every symbol on every page. Often times, especially when using Track Changes for edits, you end up with things like; punctuation on the wrong side of quotation marks, missing punctuation, words written twice, missing words, missing letters… These are the things you MUST look for while doing a final proofread of your manuscript. Spell Check can’t tell the difference between “The girl had rice.” And “The girl had had lice”.

Dee Nicholls lives on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband, three kids (ages twenty-two, fourteen and two) and three dogs. She has always loved working with children: first teaching dance, then directing and choreographing school plays. Her love of reading began when she was three, and she’s had a book in her hand ever since. When her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep at night, she decided to try her hand at writing and loved it. She's been writing ever since.


Hurricane Day is more than a story about a hurricane. It explores the hectic pace of the modern day family. Jimmy and his family are always in a hurry, always rushing from one activity to the next. However, when they find out there is a hurricane headed straight for them, Jimmy's parents must slow down and take the time to reassure him that everything will be all right. They take a break from the rat race to answer all of his questions, as they prepare for the hurricane.



Barnes and Noble

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