Article Archive


Using a Spellchecker

by Nann Dunne

Please, let me BEG all you authors to run a spellchecker on your manuscript before submitting it to a publisher. That doesn't catch words that are misused (or missing!), but it catches the ones that are misspelled. Editors will appreciate the help.

Pay particular attention to your spelling of character names. I've read four books in the past two months that have character names spelled more than one way (not intentionally!). Let me give you a tip (in MSWord) about names of characters, places, etc., that are used more than once in the story. When you first type a name, put your cursor on it, then go to Tools, Spelling and Grammar. When the name shows up in the box, click on Add. That way, if you accidentally misspell the name later, it will be highlighted with the red underline that Word uses for misspellings. Pay attention to all those red underlines; they are an invaluable help. When you see one, put your cursor on the word and click the right mouse button. That will give you a few suggestions for the correct spelling. Please make sure you pick the right one. Let's all work together to keep typos out of our published books.

Another suggestion: Keep a list of character names with their pertinent details. When you've been away from your story for a while, or haven't mentioned a particular character for 50 pages, check to make sure you're calling him exactly the same name and giving him the same history or description. Believe me, mistakes do happen.

Lest we rely too heavily on the spell checkers, folks, here's a reason for careful editing:

An Editor's Nightmare--
Core Wrecked!

Eye halve a spelling chequer;
It came with my pea sea.
It plane lee marques four my revue
Miss stakes eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong or 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 rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
Eye am shore your pleased two no;
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Author unknown.

Do you think the English language is easy to learn? (Or edit? LOL) Consider the following sentences.

We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
A bass fish was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

óNann Dunne
© 2003, Nann Dunne

Back to Article Archive.