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Excellent advice, Crof. Especially about the software spell and grammar check. While it misses a lot, it also points out some things we've as writers missed.


Editing's really important. Looking at something a few days or even weeks after I've first written it helps me look with fresh eyes and I see things I'd never have spotted before!


1. Don't trust your spell checker and grammar checker. But don't ignore them either.

Great advice. It is so easy to have confidence in a spell checker, but so easy to forget that you might have typed "this" and meant to type "thistle." Of course, both are spelled correctly, and the spellchecker won't notice.

2. Read the script cold, when you haven't been working on it. A week or more is a good cooling-off period.

I have read, I believe in Stephen King's book on writing, that he often leaves his manuscripts "cold" for several months. I think it is good advice to leave a manuscript "cold" to the point where you no longer remember much of what was written. If you are like me, you have read and re-read what you have written dozens of times and everything makes (oh so much!) sense. It is good to forget whatever was written, and approach it with a mind that hasn't lived "in the manuscript's world" for many weeks.

3. Edit from hard copy, not from the computer screen. The longer you read text on screen, the worse your proofreading ability becomes.

Great advice.

5. Cut as much as possible. We usually over-explain. This is true whether it's a matter of great chunks of "fine writing" that don't advance the story, to superfluous "he saids" and "she replieds."

I am reminded when reading tales such as The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis that a good story allows the reader to fill in much of the detail. I once started a modern fantasy book that used (literally) at least 2 adjectives for every noun. A cloud couldn't simply be a cloud, it had to be: "an ominous, whispy white cloud in the shape of a rabbit, floated by the rusty, worn, silver flagpole." So much of modern writing thinks description IS story. Story is story. Too much description weighs down a story.


I particularly like "Print out that copy in a font you don't usually use" A big problem with proofreading your own work is the lack of distance.

I'd also add "Read the script out loud" - it avoids the tendency the brain has to interpret or clean up mistakes.

Andy Byers

What a lot of inspiring advice in your six points... the fourth point, about changing the font when printing a hard copy, really chimes. I'm definitely going to have to try that! Thank you... I'm glad I found your blog today. :)

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