A few days ago, I completed the last go-round of self-edits on a full-length western romance novel that I'll submit to Prairie Rose Publications toward the end of this month. Then, I sent the manuscript off to my editor for her clichéd 'fine tooth combing' to catch those beastly embarrassing errors that I've missed.
After I edited myself cross-eyed on this manuscript, I ran Microsoft Word's spelling/grammar check to catch doubled words (the the), incidences of missed punctuation and spacing, words butted up to each other (hesaid), errors in capitalization (elizabeth needs an E), straightforward spelling errors (cottton), and so forth. While I do read the sentence structure/grammar suggestions, I don't often find any usable (meaning correct) suggestions.
Word's spelling/grammar check tool misses as many errors as it offers incorrect fixes. Here are examples from my manuscript to illustrate just how goofy spellcheck can be.
*My sentence: His grip was strong, yet gentle, his gaze...
Spellcheck: His grips was strong, yet gentle, his gazes...
*My sentence of dialogue: "How is that possible?"
Spellcheck suggested changing "How" to any of these: Hoy, Hoz, Show, O, Ha, He
*My sentence: He interjected, “Luis, perhaps that is none of your business.”
Spellcheck: He interjected, “Luis, perhaps which is none of your business.”
*My sentence: "She was close enough to reach out and touch..."
Spellcheck: "She was closes enough to reach out and touches..."
*My description: ...they took their trade to the Comanche...in their carretas.
Spellcheck wants carretas to be 'carrots'. Must be a BIG carrot.
*My dialogue: "I would have crossed the Jornada Del Muerto to Mesilla..."
(Side note, the spellchecking lost its mind over the Spanish words in this story)
Spellcheck: Change Jornada to tornado. Talk about loosing something in the translation. ;-)
The priest in my story is named Father Bartolo. Spellcheck wants him to be Father Barstool. 0_o
Newspaper headline: Distraught Fiancé on Trail of Kidnapper. Spellcheck suggested changing 'Trail' to 'Trial'. Hmm. Switching those two vowels really changes the meaning.
Spellcheck suggested that I change Pinkerton (as in detective agency) to 'Pinker ton'. What is a Pinker? And why would I want a ton of it? What would I do with a ton of Pinker once I got it? Maybe my ton of pink is pinker than your ton of pink. Why would this even be a suggestion?
One of my characters uses poor English and grammar, so spellcheck wants "hisself" to become "his elf". Not sure there are any elves roaming around the Texas prairie, but then... maybe. pffssst. And, in this sentence, "I ain't figgered it out", I should change the figgered to jiggered.
Chapter Twenty should be 'Captor Twenty'. I don't know why spellcheck singled out Chapter Twenty out of twenty-seven to hold captive.
The one that made me snort was "tin-panny piano". Spellcheck wants it to be "tin-puny piano". Sort of works. ;-)
But, the best suggestion was in the scene when one guy punches another guy. Spellcheck suggested that I change "fist" to "first". Apparently, I've had it wrong all these years. It's a first fight, not a fist fight. Silly me. Spellcheck would have gone up in flames if it had been a first fist fight.
A recent addition to my self-editing ritual is to listen to the 'speak' option read the story aloud while I follow along in the document (thanks to Jacquie Rogers for sharing this as one of her self-editing steps). The silliest thing I encountered was with the word "sob", as in crying. The automated reader spelled it out—S.O.B. Now, that was some funny stuff.
What goofiness have you encountered with a spellchecker or a read aloud program? Anecdotes anyone?
New from Kaye Spencer - A Permanent Woman - a story in the anthology...
Until next month,
Fall in love...faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer