How to Edit Your Book: Round Three

Last week, I started this series with posts about rewrites in round one, and things like sentence structure and word usage in round two. Now for round three!

For round three, I like to focus on the smaller details; things like spelling errors and grammar/punctuation. For this round of editing, I suggest switching up your form of editing. In other words, if you've been editing on a computer, it's time to print out the document. And vice versa! The reason for this is that this round of editing focuses on the tiny things, and by the time you reach this round you've likely read your book at least three times. The words are probably beginning to sound boring and familiar, and you're probably getting sick of your story.
I'll say once again that I'm a big believer in taking routine breaks while editing or writing your book. Give yourself about a week of break time (meaning a week of not looking at your book at all) in between editing sessions.
Back to business!
After you've changed your method of editing, get ready to be looking for some teeny, tiny errors.

Grammar and Punctuation
One of the biggest problems I've seen with grammar and punctuation isn't necessarily that the writer doesn't know much about grammar, but rather they've just made tiny mistakes with it. Namely, forgetting periods at the ends of sentences, comma splices, and lack of consistency! Obviously, to solve the problem of forgetting periods and other punctuation marks at the ends of sentences is just to look carefully, multiple times. You have to actually look for these kinds of mistakes, otherwise your brain will probably just skip right over them.
Comma splices are a little different. Sometimes the writer doesn't realize they've made a comma splice, and other times they don't know they made one because they don't know what a comma splice actually is. Basically, a comma splice occurs when you have lines that could stand alone as two separate sentences, but you separate them with a comma. For example:

I love pandas so much, they are the sweetest animals!

To fix this, you could either split the sentence in two, or put a semi-colon in the middle, like so:

I love pandas so much. They are the sweetest animals!
I love pandas so much; they are the sweetest animals.

Now for lack of consistency. For example, in my first draft of Unperfected, I used both - and -- to express when my characters were being cut off in conversation. Both isn't okay! It makes your writing appear amateur. This is the same for words that can be spelled differently but mean the same things, such as "gray" and "grey" or "color" and "colour" etc. Look for things such as this that are inconsistent in your book. Then pick one way to spell a word or use punctuation, and be consistent throughout the rest of the book! This also goes for the spelling of cities and character names. To find and change inconsistencies quickly, I suggest using Microsoft Word's find and replace tool for this, because it's super helpful! (Even if you're editing by hand in this stage, you can go back and use the tool in your document when you transfer edits from the printed out version to the screen version.)

Spelling Errors
This is quite possibly one of the hardest types of errors to look for. Obviously if you're using a program like Microsoft Word, it'll underline your misspelled words with a red squiggle. That part is simple. I'm talking about the spelling errors that aren't going to be caught by Word; the ones where you spell something wrong, but it's still a word. Words like to, two, and too, have and halve, no and know, for and four, etc. In this case, I find it's give or take with Word's spell checker. Sometimes it catches these errors, sometimes it doesn't. And when it doesn't, you have to. So look carefully!

In the spirit of spelling errors, I thought I'd end this post with one of my favorite funny poems. It was written by Jerrold H. Zar and Mark Eckman. Enjoy, and check back on Thursday for the final post in the series!

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise
Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar
I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker's
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault's with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word's fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw's are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.