Proofreading is reexamining your written work very carefully to correct errors in grammar and spelling.
A piece of pie for children’s books, right? Not really, if you know how clued in your audience is. Jan and Stan, the writers of “The Berenstain Bears”, found out the hard way – when they received an avalanche of mail for missing out on a hair bow on one of the characters in a book!
This is an audience you don’t want to mess with. So, children’s writers cannot afford to forget ‘dotting every I’ and crossing every ‘T’.
Before You Proofread
Begin the process of proofreading only after you have resolved all the major issues in your manuscript viz. character development, narration, organization of the text.
Take a break from writing before you begin proofreading your work. There should be a time lag of at least 30 minutes after writing. This will clear your mind and help you to spot mistakes quickly.
Be aware of your weaknesses and keep a special lookout for them.
When You Proofread
During the writing process, use of computer functions is critical to eliminating a whole heap of grammatical mistakes and spelling errors.
But during proofreading, try something different.
- Use printed text, rather than computer screen. It may help change the perspective and alert you to mistakes you may miss out on a computer screen.
- Try reading aloud, which sometimes allows you to ‘hear’ problems that you might miss out on while reading silently.
- Focus on reading a line at a time, using a blank sheet of paper to cover the lines below.
- Use the search function of the computer to flag down your common mistakes. For example, search for “it,” if you have a tendency to confuse “its” and “it’s”. You can search for your common grammatical errors in a similar way.
- To really eliminate every last mistake, take the tough route. Read through several times for each type of mistake: once for fragments, once for subject-verb agreement etc., ending with a backward read, word by word, for a thorough spell check.
- Finally, use the computer spell check on the entire manuscript.
If you tend to make too many mistakes are a shaky speller, get a friend or relative to help you through the final proofreading.
You could also get professional help by using handbooks, attending workshops or consulting writing instructors.