Friday, January 16, 2015

Cry, baby

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

This is the model typewriter I learned to type on.
I have been awash in typos lately.  The thing is, when I'm working on a story, I type my butt off--as fast as I can to get my ideas down before I lose my train of thought.  Back in high school, when I was learning to type (keyboard, for you youngsters), they stressed not only accuracy, but more importantly SPEED.  So usually we were trying to type as fast as we could (on horrible MANUAL typewriters) which ruined our accuracy.  But ... that's how they judged you.


So, during the past month or so I've been proofreading my butt off. (And boy do I wish that I could actually trim inches that way.) I've read Evolution: Jeff Resnick's Backstory FIVE TIMES. (And re-read two of the short stories yesterday and STILL found three instances that I thought should be changed to be more precise.)  That book means something very special to me, and I want it as perfect as I can make it.

Will I read it again?  I have a feeling I will.

I'm currently working on proofing the Tales of Telenia: THRESHOLD manuscript or the upcoming print and audio editions.  Man--I'm changing so much, plus have found all kinds of nit-picky errors.  how can it be that after having beta readers go through it, AFTER Mr. L and I went through it--and much more than once, there are still errors?

This week I've been working on the copy edit of A Fatal Chapter (Booktown Mystery #9), and am wincing at the errors. I'm going through and checking the changes the copy editor made (and I found more than a few she missed) and putting them in my copy of the manuscript, which I intend to print out and read again (with a bookmark under each line to make sure I read EACH AND EVERY WORD).

I've got a new Jeff Resnick short story coming out on February 3rd called Crybaby.  Every night for the past two weeks I've read the story, printed it out, made changes, printed it out and read it again.  EVERY NIGHT FOR TWO WEEKS. (It's enough to make you cry!)  Last night, I read it one more time and STILL made tiny tweaks.  This has got to stop.  We all want our work to be the best we can make it, but when it comes to commas, sometimes I think we're being just a little too anal.

Still. I do want my work to be the best it can be.  It's what I expect when I read the work of any other author. But man, how can anybody make so many typos?

Do you notice typos when you read a book?


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but yes I notice typos. Sometimes there are so many that they drive me to distraction. My mom, my fourth grade teacher, and my eighth grade teacher were all sticklers for grammar and spelling so I learned from the best. Spell check is a great tool until you get to a word which can be spelled a couple of ways (to/too, no/know, for/four). However, I am positive that the person who initially writes something is the worst person to proof it for typos and grammar. Cordella

Gram said...

Yes I notice, but if they are only rare it probably does not disturb the flow. What gets me is redundancies i.e. reverse back.

Harbinger said...

I do notice typos/grammar/spelling issues. In some cases, they can be really jarring and can interfere with my enjoyment of the book.

I don't recall any glaring issues with your books, Lorraine.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

A wonderful post!! Lorraine, I have to admit that the photo of the typewriter warmed my heart! I guess I am sentimental about typewriters, I wrote my first boo for Scholastic on an old Royal I'd bought for $25.00.

Unknown said...

I notice typos and a few are understandable and I have no trouble overlooking them. I begin to wonder if there was a proofreader when there are many. Many are annoying to me. When I edited access materials for microfilm and microfiche, I read each line backwards which caught misspellings. That done, I read forward for flow, punctuation, and grammar. I agree with the person who commented above: it is most difficult for me to proofread what I type. I seems that my eye sees what is there and my brain sees what I intended. I can proofread my own work when a considerable about of time has lapsed and my eyes and brain work together with a fresh perspective. Also, as a artist working in ink and watercolor, I know that I need to recognize when it is time to stop because the work is finished. It seems to me that there comes a point at which "tweaking" starts to change the expression for the worse rather than for the better. I suggest stopping to smile. Somehow everything feels better when I smile, even messes. Thank you for sharing your imagination in such an intriguing way! You are an author who takes me into a fascinating world. I love puzzles.

Dru said...

I notice typos and tend to gloss over them. If there's a lot in the same story, then I'll be conscious of them and not pay attention to the story.

Diane said...

Yes, I do notice typos. A few don't bother me.. After all, I would do worse and they are understandable. Once in a while, I read a book that has a lot and I do wonder about the proof reader. All of the Cozy Chicks only have a few and that is only once in a while and never a lot of them. Just keep writing and I'll be happy. I know I even make them on my comments and I check everything I write.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I notice typos also. I just noticed one in my post. What I really dislike though is seeing an 'a' where there should be an 'an'. Or when I have a library book where a previous reader has underlined mistakes. Typos really don't bother me that much I suppose, none of us is perfect.

Grandma Cootie said...

I do notice typos, but they don't seem to jump out and bother me as much as they used to. Grammar errors bother me more, but even then if there are only a few and it's an author I like and/or a book I am enjoying I just read on. If there are a lot then I will think everyone involved with the book is just sloppy and I'll probably stop reading that author. I appreciate all the effort you go to to make your books as error-free as possible - it shows.

And underlining mistakes in a library book! Heavens, what is this world coming to, writing in library books? Made me shudder to imagine. I was raised by a book-loving grandmother and mother. We did not write in books, turn corners, or lay them down open.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Great post, Lorraine! It's very hard to avoid them. I also read out loud and with a ruler, but they can sneak in anyway. I love your commitment to quality.



Janice Dinse said...

I guess I am anal when it comes to typos, especially when I pay a lot for a book. I always thought publishing houses had proofreaders, never knew you had to proof your own work. It is distracting to me. I am looking for a job, so if anybody knows of anyone looking for a proofreader, I am available.

Jane R said...

Oh yes, I notice typos but try not to let it bother me unless there are a lot of them. Then it's hard to ignore.

What bothers me more are inconsistencies or jumps in a story. I once read an entire book that spelled the main character's name different than it was spelled in the title.

My husband insists that I should promote myself as a proofreader/editor. Anyone interested? I'd do it free of charge, just for the opportunity to read some great books!! (and help out at the same time).

katherine is love said...

I do notice typos, yes. One of my coworkers published a book on her own and she didn't have anyone proofread it other than her. Needless to say, the amount of typos and grammatical errors were so out of control, I couldn't even really enjoy the story.

If you are ever looking for a volunteer proofreader, I'm your girl! Email me!
katherinedennihy at
It would seriously be an honor to proofread for one of my favorite authors.

Heather said...

Yes, I notice typos -- too many of them can not only pull me out of the story, but ruin the entire book for me.