The Challenges of Proofreading and How to Express Yourself in the Use of Words

Ever Wish You Had Another Pair of Fresh Eyes?
Ever Wish You Had Another Pair of Fresh Eyes?

Unfortunately, a new pair of glasses won’t change your preconceived judgments, criticism, and bad habits. You just can’t wipe away a lifetime of engrained programming.

Editing and proofreading is a learned skill. You train your physical eyes to see errors, typos, and inconsistencies–things that just don’t make sense or are contradictory to previously stated fact or fiction. This is a different skill set than reading. You have to slow down, read each word separately, then each phrase or clause, making sure it’s a complete sentence, and check the construction of the sentence to make sure the objects, prepositions, verb tenses, and subject(s) are in a logical parallel pattern. Lastly, you go back to the beginning of the sentence, paragraph, or piece to check the validity of the statement in conjunction with  the rest of the facts in an expository or the forward progressive action in fiction.

Your mind’s eye is a little harder to train. The mind’s eye is a collection of programmed data that has been input into cellular, organic gray matter since the day you were born. The conflicting material is a little overwhelming, to say the least. The number of times you’ve spelled or used a word incorrectly may far outweigh the times you’ve seen it correctly. So what’s going to pop up in your database, the brain, when you do a search/retrieve? The wrong, more plentiful data, of course. But a firm, conscious override of what has been programmed previously will stick, if only you could see with fresh, uncensored eyes.

The training begins anew, guiding your physical eyes to notice things you would normally just read right over, especially if it’s your own writing. Those of you who’ve read my editing/proofreading tips before know that I’m a firm believer that you cannot peruse your own writing for errors, typos, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies. What’s engrained in your computer database or brain is what you think is there, not necessarily what your physical eyes are seeing. A professional editor is still your best investment, but there are a few tricks that can fool the physical eye into seeing what is really there and not what your mind’s eye perceives. This would be like fresh data to the brain.

  1. Read sections, sentences, paragraphs out of order. I’ve known many proofreaders who read things backwards, sometimes one letter at a time.This, of course, only works for catching typos and errors. Inaccuracies and inconsistencies won’t be seen if you’re reading in  nonsensical fashion. This process works best if you’re reading/spelling aloud with two people swapping off and reading to each other. Two heads are better than one? Two sets of eyes and ears are even better!
  2. Your Kindle, e-reader or app can change-up your writing to make it appear somewhat fresh by enlarging the text, changing the font or typeface, changing the color, and especially switching the background to black with white type. Sometimes that’s just the ticket to make errors pop!
  3. If the eyes and brain are programmable, data-driven organs, use something else, like auditory. Use your Kindle or computer voice to read to you. A multitude of errors and misspellings can be heard in awkward phrasing, mispronunciations. Extra words, doubled words, left out words, wrong words are very noticeable in auditory.
  4. Using a professional editor or proofreader is always, still, your best bet. Spell-cheek, grammar-check, and so-called editing or grammar software packages are as finite as your operating system. If it makes a word, it makes logical computer sense to a computer. That does not make it the right word. Nor does it catch inverted construction (different languages have different sentence construction),  repeated words, left out words, and will never pick-up inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and errors in content.

The last item I’d like to share is cadence. Have you ever read some authors where the words just glide through your mind with flowing, almost poetic smoothness? Edgar Allen Poe was the master at this. Poets are known for keeping the cadence rhythmic. But this idea of fluidity can be applied to any type of writing–business, technical, essays, academic papers, and especially advertising and promotional media. Read your own writing back to yourself aloud, record it, listen to it in your own voice and inflection. Is it catchy, creative, smooth, persuasive, dramatic?

Other Points to Consider: Have you used the same word or words too repetitively? That gets boring to read very quickly. Do you have trouble reading an awkward sentence? Does it make logical sense or is it too rambling, ambiguous, losing momentum and cadence?  Is it too long, too short; are you too repetitious in your ideas? Does each sentence have a subject, a verb, and an object or predicate? Do you have your clarifying remarks in the correct order? Does the entire piece have a dominant theme, supporting material, and a conclusion? Then look at each paragraph under the same premise–an opening sentence, substantiated information, and a conclusion that is linked to the theme. Paragraphs are just mini essays that support the whole concept.

Writing is considered a free expression of thought and creativity, but if you want to make your point, there are tried-and-true steps to follow to get that point across.

Design your writing with your words, an expression of yourself!
Design your writing with your words, an expression of yourself!

Best wishes on manuscripts and media that say much about you, the writer, in subtle clarity that speaks for itself.

Deborah A Bowman


                          I hope you have all enjoyed reading about Denny Ryder and her healing process to date in STROKE OF MIDNIGHT! She is overcoming the claustrophobic, trapped feeling from the first novella, STROKE OF FEAR!

                          Denny can use her brain slowly as it heals, but she still sees, hears, and responds to pictures in her mind. She is having a hard time translating the pictures into concepts and words.  

                          Basically, Denny has had a Stroke on the right side of her body, which is controlled by the left brain hemisphere. The left brain, in part, does all the analytical computations and functions of movement, words, memory, and cognition. The right hemisphere of the brain controls the left side of the body which primarily supports more creative functions such as artistry (pictures, dreams, symbols, colors, sound, etc.). Both hemispheres of the brain interact to completely support all functions.

                          The brain is the most complex organ in the body and the least understood, even though research is continuing to make progress.

                          Denny has more use of her intuitive nature, which is based on symbols and pictures. It’s how we all dream. For Denny, at present, it’s easier to tap into her telepathic dreamscape than to return to the realm of reality.                           She really wants to return to her previous condition, and the doctors have promised a full recovery. This keeps her progressing beautifully, with the help of her dedicated care-givers.

                          In Denny’s case, however, she also has an additional hemisphere in the brain—small, but noticeable on an MRI—which is her unique, extra, sixth sense. This psychic ability Denny would prefer to have eliminated is part-and-parcel of who she is and rather dominant in her personality. It’s best to leave well-enough alone.

                          This concept is pure fiction in my mind, but prophetic? Who knows?

                          I used many research methods to develop my fictional concepts, including my own prophetic abilities and medical research. The remote viewing team, which will remain nameless, has been in and out of the media and history books for decades. I believe it exists in many countries, but that is only my personal belief.

                          Suffice to say, Denny is a special young woman, and her recovery and future recognition of the dreams and images she so much wants to deny is a coming-of-age transition into the mature, wise crone, which RN Kari Logan sees in her new friend. Hopefully, Denny will accept this new evolution of herself.

                          One more word on Denny’s condition: She does see and hear, but her auditory skills are mostly in her left brain, which is still healing. She hears static and harsh sounds that have no meaning. Detective Ted Collins and RN Kari Logan have learned from the remote viewing affiliation that if they speak slowly and softly, Denny has time to let her brain “catch up” and transfer words to pictures. Denny heard Clarissa’s voice and saw her in the dream-state only in STROKE OF MIDNIGHT!

                          Denny’s world is not silent, but her brain accepts silence at this time. I hope this step forward in the Denny Ryder Paranormal Crime Series shows that Denny did see, hear, and respond to outside stimuli in her comatose state. It was my intent.

                          The groundwork is now laid—the characters more fully developed, and Benny Russo is still out there.

                          One more quick thought before I begin STROKE OF SILENCE: If you are intrigued by this series and/or paranormal aspects of crime investigation, please share Denny with your friends or write a review. I would appreciate all comments, suggestions, and positive or negative feedback. We all learn from each other and grow with the changing tides of our perceptions.

                          Denny and I can be directly contacted by emailing:

                          Thank you and happy reading! My blog on and my Facebook “BowmanBooks” page, as well as twitter @Bowmanauthor,  delve into the mysteries of plot, characterization, voice, writing, editing, proofreading, publishing, and other varied subjects. I enjoy doing reviews for other authors.

Deborah A. Bowman, author







♦  ♦  ♦




Historical Fiction, full-length novel, 2014






(Denny Ryder Paranormal Crime Series)

By Deborah A. Bowman


A few weeks later …

            Time can be so distorted when your life revolves around the same events, in a pattern, every day. Sometimes, things happen quickly and take my breath away. Sometimes, the seconds drag by so slowly, I want to scream! And, maybe, just maybe, I will!

            Would I hear myself scream? I’ve learned how to tune-out the noise and create silence as I search for the substance and meaning of what is happening outside my body. Yet, still, I respond mostly to what I see in my mind—the pictures, the images, and especially the dreams.

♦  ♦  ♦

            Benny Russo was pissed at the events that were shaping his life. How on earth had they been able to find the body of Jeremy Manchester?

            Some psychic from up-state New York (Irene Mischevsky?) had been brought in by the parents, but she insisted Jeremy was still out there! Alive!

            Jeremy hadn’t been his finest specimen. Yet, the media gave him so much attention, which made Russo furious. They’d been just giving up, the FBI fading into oblivion, when the Dayton/Montgomery County Police received another tip from somewhere. Russo was obsessed with hacking the system and finding out the source, but this time he couldn’t seem to hack into any relevant details.

            Oh sure, the media printed all the gory, yet delicious, details of the headless horseman, seven-year-old Jeremy Manchester from Good Hope, Ohio. They were in a tizzy about finding his head. Almost as much trouble as the media was stirring up over the missing little girl, Clarissa.

            “Well they can have her, too, if they can find her, or what’s probably left of her, heh,” Benny snorted.

            “Good luck,” Russo roared as he laughed so loud the rafters shook. “No one to hear me out here!”

            Benny beefed up his generator by accessing more than one unit and started searching the web again. He was too busy to worry about the small stuff.

            “Someone will slip up somewhere and the little secret will come out. I’ll be ready, and I won’t be nice to the Detective-in-charge, Theodore Collins, or his little mole. I’ll make an exception for Collins by cutting up his ugly, old corpse, not sweet and delectable like a young’in! I’m’a hoping the source was one of the other kids in Good Hope. I’d enjoy that. Wouldn’t you, Dog?”


I’ve been off-the-grid/Proofreading Tip

I was out of town–no wifi? I didn’t think such places existed anymore! Still going to do some editor, proofreader, publishing tips for all of you who follow me on WordPress and Twitter.

Tip for today: Proofreading. It is impossible, no matter how skilled and educated you are, to proofread and/or copy-edit your own material. The brain is an amazing organ. It retains and memorizes everything! We just don’t know it! Confusing, I know, but that’s how it works, folks. No matter how cold it is . . . and I’ve let them get “iced” . . . your brain remembers what you originally wrote and you read right over what is on the page or screen. You see what is in your subconscious, not necessarily what is actually there. Spell-check can be a friend and a foe. If it makes a word, spell-check will change it on WORD 2010, even if you don’t. Not a nice surprise after a 400-page book has been laid out for printing. I’ve tried to beat this self-proofreading, self-editing dilemma for many years more than some of your have been on earth, and I am a tough editor. I’m so disgusted with myself when I find an error . . . not me! Be kind to yourself and find a proofreader who is a stickler for accuracy to the point that you either get mad or get your feelings hurt. My feelings have been hurt and I have been angry, but it doesn’t sell books or impress an agent/publisher/editor. Sometimes proofreaders can be friends if they’re avid readers and know how to look for errors. It really is a science. Don’t blame yourself. It’s human nature. Or find and pay a good editor. It’s worth it. I had to learn all this the hard way. “Comments, suggestions, snide remarks are welcomed.” I can’t take credit for that quote. A sales manager used to tell me that. What was I doing in sales anyway? I’m a writer! Live and learn!