Saturday, January 5, 2013

I don't have a ruler to slap your hand with, but ...

745324Sometimes, the world changes in unnecessary ways. You ever notice that? Soon as I decide I like a new product at the grocery store, dammit it's gone. A neighbor plows the snow out of his driveway and into the parking space in front of your house. So as I read blog posts and story drafts, when I see an unnecessary trend in how people use English, it pesters me.

Most word processing programs have spell checkers included. I usually use Blogger in Firefox, and that infamous red squiggly line appears underneath "alot" because it's incorrect. Do people turn off their spell checkers? Do they just not notice the red squiggle? Do they just not care? I don't know.

I'm not talking about occasional typos. When somebody repeatedly uses the wrong form of a word, it's almost certainly not a typo.

For example:
  • "alot" instead of "a lot"
  • "flush out" instead of "flesh out" (unless you really don't like the thing you're talking about. "Flush out" has a completely different meaning)
  • "peak interest" or "peek interest" instead of "pique interest" 

Most U.S. editors and agents are not going to look favorably on a query that uses "alot" or "peak interest." I bought a self-pubbed story but had to put it down about 1/3 of the way in. When I popped on to Amazon to leave a review, I saw lots of comments about how badly edited the book was. So readers do notice this stuff.

There are rules for using English. Some of them can bend and some of them are meant to provide standardization so we all know what the heck we're talking about. 

Mistakes in blog posts are pet peeve of mine. When you deal with a publisher, you might find mistakes in the finished book that you had nothing to do with. Blogs are totally in our control. Proofread, that's all I'm saying. If there's time to put together a post, there's five more minutes to proofread it. Sometimes you miss stuff. I get that. My regular critters find mistakes in my chapters that I missed. But typos, left out words, and misuse of homophones don't happen often in my writing because I proofread.

Proofreading is not some mystic or arcane power. Anybody can do it. You don't have to be OCD to fix mistakes.

I have one more thing to say but I’ll keep that for next time. Thanks for reading! It's a grey day in my part of the Northeastern U.S. so maybe that's affected my mood.  Happy 2013 everybody!
Image courtesy of bjearwicke/stock.xchng


  1. It's funny...I have problems with homophones, but I don't know why. I know my there/their/they're, my it's/its and all those, yet as I type, I will often shove in an it's instead of its, or the They're instead of there. I don't know what it is, or why my fingers type the wrong one when I know better. I do know it is incredibly frustrating to find a boneheaded mistake like that in something I've written. I'm pretty good about proofing everything writing, except guessed comments! oi!

  2. ha! Hi Angela! I'm sorry if I sounded like a know-it-all in this post, it's mostly venting. I guess it just seems to me that more and more mistakes stick out to me, ones that are apparently avoidable.

    I watch the screen as I type so when I goof up, I see it immediately (most of the time). Not everybody does that so some mistakes happen. It's just, sheesh, you know, I'm sorry, proofread before pressing "send" or "publish."

    Don't mean to imply I'm perfect at it, I sure goof up too. And I hear sometimes a writer will review galleys and in the published book, find mistakes that weren't in the galleys!

    I've got a few words that I always spell wrong too, and I've gotten so angry at myself that I've actually knocked off the key above my "backspace" :D

    In high school, during free periods I used to read the unabridged dictionary. Really, read it. So you gotta expect some pigheadedness about spelling from me :D