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Don’t Sotp Proofreading

March 8, 2013

By Dean Murphy

It’s one thing to kill your darlings, but have you ever wondered how renowned authors get away with murder? That is, not the CSI: Miami kind but killing their sentences with poor proofing skills.

One bestselling novel identifies “Chapter Fourty” and has Orlando east of Daytona Beach. The author got into deep water for that geographic goof.

 Common mistakes are innumerable.

Use “it’s” only as a contraction of “it is.” “Who is” contracts to “who’s” and whose denotes ownership. And you thought Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first” shtick is confusing?

You may shorten the 1960s to the ’60s but not the 60’s. An apostrophe, however, is necessary when something is omitted. Homebuilders advertise condos “from the $60’s,” meaning prices start at $60,000.

It’s scary that properly spelled words are contextually incorrect. Disney World’s Haunted Mansion has a tombstone inscribed “Lord she is thin” instead of thine, and a grave marker in Montreal proclaims “Your forever in our heart.” And that is engraved in…

Speaking of mortality, commas can kill. Consider a governor’s script freeing a felon written improperly as “Pardon not, guilty.”

Then there are homophone hang-ups. Homer Simpson is an American idle, and when his dogs paws they stand still. Don’t tell Canadians we eat chocolate moose, and in your martini a whole olive doesn’t have a hole. Although a pony with laryngitis is a little hoarse, it’s best not to lead it to water with reigns to make it drink.

Writers need fresh eyes to review final drafts.

In a book review, I referred to a detective paring back onion peals in an investigation. The tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells may peal, but onions never will.

Don’t rely solely upon computer software to check grammar and spelling. Like the cop eating a donut, it didn’t catch speeders blowing through a spot sign in this sentence.

  1. March 9, 2013 9:59 am

    Picture the map of this country and now fill it with big blocks of letters that spell words that form sentences. Now imagine a tsunami big enough to rise and plunge over the continent. It roils over the continent and then recedes. What is left? Big blocks of letters jumbled about in meaningless confusion. Such is the state today of language proficiency or literacy or how ever you want to define it. In one week I have had to return two books to the library because each was so full of grammatical errors that I couldn’t read it. I can’t digest content that is semi-literate. And these books were published by trade publishers. The grammatical atrocities I hear coming from the mouths of intelligent and educated people around me is disheartening, to say the least. They have not been taught. So we have two generations who cannot teach it to the next. You simply cannot lower all the standards without losing everything.

  2. March 9, 2013 10:22 am

    Love the scents of humor! Mine is quirky, two. We learn more with good humor than…Ben & Jerry’s!

  3. April 29, 2013 7:06 am

    Hi murphy,great plugin. Now i have some useful ideas while using proofreading for any articles. Thanks for sharing such ideas with us.

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