Read these 11 Proofreading Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Writing tips and hundreds of other topics.
Everyone has at one point or another in their life used one little word that caused them a lot of worry or possibly grief. Sometimes we view this word as a good thing, something that will bring us joy and happiness. Other times, we view this word as terrible...something to fear and hide away from.
The little word I speak of that packs such a big punch is the word, "If". Yes, we all know it. We have all used it in everyday life as well as in our writing. Now let's take this idea one step further and focus completely on the writing aspect of the word “If“.
There are many ways we can use the word in a phrase to spin different approaches to an idea. Doing this small exercise will also help us gain different perspectives of the same idea. This is a way to view something from all sides, and perhaps help flesh an otherwise floundering story out.
The following are is a list of different ways to use the word "If" to get that creative grind stone rolling. Answer each as it pertains to your story idea or to an already existing story and see what you come up with.
If my character makes this choice/follows through with a certain action...what are the possible outcomes?
If my character feels (insert emotion here) what will happen? Note: Go through several emotions with your character and idea.
If I want to convey a certain message in my story or poem, what are the different ways I can do this?
What If this idea were seen through the eyes of a different character? In other words, from the outside looking in.
What If this idea were seen through the eyes of your main character? In other words, from the inside looking out.
If I tried to write this piece in a different genre how would it change?
If this work I am doing is to be a short story, is it possible to develop it into something longer?
If this work I am doing is to be a long piece, is it possible to spin off a shorter piece from this idea?
If this work I am doing is to be a poem, what style and form will I use? If I use a different form, how will it change the piece as a whole?
If I change the opening line to a different perspective, how will it change the story as a whole?
If my character chooses one action over another, how will it change the outcome of the story?
Of course, these are just some of the "If" questions you could ask yourself about your writing. Experiment. Think outside the box. Try new things and ask yourself these big questions with such a little word. You will be surprised and more than likely pleased at how much it helps in the development of an idea along with your overall writing performance!
This is one of the most common proofreading errors. It is so easy to miss this in, either in your own work or in someone else's. Make a special point of stopping on each "you" or "your" and making sure the correct one is used. An easy way to do this is to use your word processor's "search" feature and search for every "you" use. (If you don't add a space at the end, it'll also stop on "your.") Then you can make a point of reading each useage.
Skim your paper, stopping at every comma.
See whether you have an independent clause on both sides of the comma.
If so, change the sentence in one of the following ways:
* Reword the sentence to change one clause to a dependent clause.
* Add a coordinating conjunction after the comma.
* Replace the comma with a semicolon.
* Split the sentence into 2 separate sentences.
Even the most highly skilled writer has weak areas regarding punctuation, grammar, or proofreading. Also, it is more difficult to catch your own errors because you know what you "meant" to say, so your brain skips over some errors. Try to cultivate friends or co-workers to help proofread your work. Even if the person is not a strong writer, he or she can help catch proofreading errors.
Even though you should ALWAYS run spell check, it is not a foolproof system. Even published novels from highly respected publishing houses fall into this trap. Spell check, and even grammar check, does not always know what word you mean (you vs. your, our vs. out, at vs. it, etc.).