Heroine Smugglers and Aroused Geese

Now that two of my books have been published and a third is on the way, (Second Wind Publishing will be releasing Daughter Am I in August) I don’t feel I have the right to complain about anything — I’ve achieved something that many people only dream of. But I’m going to complain anyway. Or at least state my truth very emphatically. I do not like to proof my books. By the time I get to the proofing/copyediting stage, I have written, rewritten, and edited the manuscript so many times that I find it almost impossible to focus on what is there rather than what I think is there. I also have a little voice in the back of my head whispering that if the story is riveting, if the writing is good, if the characters are real and sympathetic, a mistake or two doesn’t matter.

Perhaps not, but . . .

The other day I was reading a book by an established author, and I came across this line: They were heroine smugglers. Um . . . yeah. Can’t you just see it? Men in enveloping black capes carting dozens of young women in antebellum costumes over the border during the dark of night. Of course, if the heroines were true heroines, they would have heroically rescued themselves, in which case they would not be smuggled, hence there could be no heroine smugglers.

I admit that I’m being silly, but the point is that a mistake or two does matter. (At least one slipped by me in More Deaths Than One, but it is truly difficult to spot and I intend to get it corrected.) So I will grit my teeth, gird my loins, clench my jaw, prepare for battle, and finish proofing Daughter Am I.

For those of you who are going through the same torment, or will be going through it, here are a few tips that I’ve gleaned along the way:

Go slowly and carefully. Use a ruler or your fingers to mark the lines of print and to keep your gaze from sliding down the page. Check to see that hyphenated words at the end of the line are hyphenated properly. You might also try working from back to front like many professional copyeditors do to keep from getting involved in the story, which, surprisingly, does happen even when it’s your book that you’ve read and reread a hundred times.

Feel free to add your own tips to my list. I’ll be glad of any suggestions to make sure I don’t end up with heroine smugglers or aroused geese. Yep, aroused geese was another phrase in the same book. It might be grammatically correct, but idiomatically . . . let’s just say I don’t even want to know what those geese were up to.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, available from Second Wind Publishing.

5 Comments

Filed under books, Pat Bertram, writing

5 responses to “Heroine Smugglers and Aroused Geese

  1. mickeyhoffman

    When I was a typesetter the general wisdom was to never proof your own stuff. I have had the same problems as you described reading my own writings. I am also amazed at how many mistakes I find these days in books I just purchased for 30 bucks, books written by established authors. There used to be “professional” proofreaders who were hired just to sit there and proofread all day. Even Moore Business Forms had a guy like that, pouring over the teeny teeny type with a magnifying glass. How I hated him! Now I wish I could send him my copy!

  2. Thanks for the advice. I find reading aloud helps too, slows me down I guess.

  3. One thing you can do is change how the story looks.

    IF you are used to writing on the computer, print out the pages, change the font size, the spacing, something to rouse you from the way you normally view your work.

    Lucynda Storey
    http://www.LucyndaStorey.com/blog

  4. your post actually reminds me of a little story I wrote called A Rebel Heroine.
    A look into the story from a different direction,specifically from the heroine point..
    I ended the story with this :
    As a result, our heroine, already annoyed by all the pressure, walked out the back door taking the backstairs out of the story and slamming the door in the author’s face on her way out!

  5. christinehusom

    I have proofed my own stuff endlessly and still find errors, or things I’d change. It’s a challenge! And it’s amazing when I find errors in books from the “big houses.”

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