I wrote a guest blog post about why it’s so important for authors to have at least one “outsider” proofread their work, whether they’re indie or mainstream writers. I started the article with a simple illustrative statement:
“Errers can be distracting.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pulled out of a story because of spelling or grammatical errors. Any time the reader surfaces from the depths of your writing because of mistakes, you’ve created a weak link in the chain of your story. You may even get some negative reviews because of it.
If you think you can count on spell check or grammar check, you’re very optimistic. They can’t pick up on wrong word usage (effect vs. affect, online vs. on line – there are a million of them) and many times their suggested changes are absolutely incorrect.
Spell check once insisted I change “it’s in the living room” to “its in the living room” and “you’re a good distance away” to “your a good distance away”. And grammar check has missed incorrect tense usage and suggested pluralizing words in singular situations. Go figure.
And take a look at this crazy message spell check gave me when I was proofreading a client’s manuscript:
It says, “There are too many spelling or grammatical errors in…to continue displaying them.” Imagine if that manuscript hadn’t been professionally proofread and was self published!
A friend sent me an email that also illustrates this; it’s funny, yes, but unfortunately all too true:
Eye halve a spelling chequer; it came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques four my revue miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word and weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write. It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid, it nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite. Its rarely ever wrong.
Eye ran this poem threw it, I’m shore your pleased two no;
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh. My chequer tolled me sew.
So yes, pay attention to the suggestions made by grammar and spell check, but don’t automatically trust them to be correct. Nothing beats a good knowledge of language and word use – or the trained eye of a professional proofreader/editor!