Oh my god, proof-reading is literally the worst


I am about to begin proof-reading the manuscript of This Beautiful Fever for what is at least the third and might possibly be the fourth time. When I write a text straight through, without revision, it’s usually pretty perfect, in terms of spelling, grammar, usage, punctuation, capitalization, etc. But the moment I start revising it, the text (whether it’s an email, tweet, blog post, story, or whatever) immediately goes to hell.

I am sure it’s this way for everyone, but the more I revise, the more dropped words and bizarre usages enter the text. The result is that revision actually makes the text harder to read and less beautiful. When I revise, it all gets sorted into a good order in my mind, but the mind isn’t good at deleting the fragments of the way it used to be. So I read it through and think, “Hmm, that sounds amazing!”

When, reality it it sounds if this.

I have a pretty good proof-reading method. I’ve downloaded a program that reads text out to you. I let the computer speak the text to me as I read it. Since the computer voice lacks any preconceptions, it carefully pronounces all the misspellings and fails to add in all the dropped words. I catch a lot of stuff like this.

Doesn’t help with the commas, though.

Comments (



  1. Tracy Canfield

    I took a copy editing course in college (it satisfied some weird distributional requirement) and used to pick up extra cash freelancing. I usually get good results from setting things aside to read fresh later – usually – but it astonishes me how many times it’s possible to read your own work and still miss a typo.

    How’s the text-to-voice working for a novel-length manuscript?

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Somewhat time-consuming, but it works fine. Still misses some things, but at least the result can be shown to another person without embarrassment.

  2. Doug Daniel

    I just went through this with my new novel, and I am sure imperfections still slipped past me. I’ve heard about the trick of using software to read the text out loud. Was this a freeware program you got or something you paid for?

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      It’s a freeware program: Free NaturalReader. There is a paid version, but the free version has more than enough functionality for proof-reading.

      1. Doug Daniel

        Thanks, I may look into it.

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