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Proofreading Catalyst

A rough sample of the Catalyst Cover

The final edits are done. The picture cover has been designed by Bob Hobbs. All that’s left to do is the cover setup (the font will hopefully change), the formatting of the book itself, and the final proofreading.

The proofreading is tough. Even though I’m pleased with the story and believe it’s well crafted, by now I’ve read the darn thing at least five times in the space of a few months and, frankly, I’m a bit sick of it.

Soon I’ll have to read it again, and this time it’s a different way of reading. This type of reading is at the same time mindless and extremely focused.

It’s mindless because you can’t afford to read the story. Reading for the story is a different mode of reading. If you’re a moderately fast reader, like I am, you read ahead and anticipate the words. Even though you read the words, your brain doesn’t “see” them; it sees the story, the characters, the action, the setting. The words –if the story is well written– weave a picture, a mental movie of what’s going on. Even in a literary work, this vision building is the goal of writing.

With proofreading, you must focus on every word. Forget the computer’s spell checker. You are the spell checker. You must look at every word and make sure each is spelled and used correctly. It becomes a witch hunt for any spelling mistakes and false friends like “it’s” and “its”, “they’re” and “their” and “there”, “who’s” and “whose”, etc. Every word is scrutinized. If you fall into the trap of beginning to read the story, you have to back up and start over.

Granted, at this point there shouldn’t be too many spelling mistakes, which makes it even more arduous because, let’s face it, reading words for the sake of words is tedious.

And as a writer, when I get to that point, I must fight the compulsion to fiddle with the words one last time before it’s too late. This is a bad idea for two reasons: first, because major changes at that point can greatly delay the publication of the book and second, because there are chances that I’ll make things worse. The story is completed. Let it be.

And very soon, I’ll be holding a copy in my hands. Can’t wait.

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