By Kelli Collins
Once upon a time, if an author wanted to woo me, he or she could merely utter one magical word to get me all excited…
(Okay, so maybe it’s two words, depending on which dictionary you check. Don’t get me started on that particular paradox).
These days, being the cynical bitch that I am, I need more stimulation. I mean, let’s face it—everyone uses spellcheck. Right?
Crazy, isn’t it? As shocking as it sounds, though it’s been drummed into their heads by every editor in the land, despite its place of honor on every Writing 101 list, scads and scads of authors still don’t use spellcheck. I’m at the end of my rope, people. That’s right. I said it. I’m dangling like the proverbial participle, one sweaty palm-length away from falling into the abyss of misspelled hell. I’m thisclose to blaming text speak…but that’s another blog.
Sure, authors swear they’re taking the two extra minutes required to check. Then why am I still finding errors? Let me guess—your evil Vista has it out for you. Or it’s some magical tech phenomenon occurring as your manuscript careens through cable and DSL lines. Or tiny Novel Gnomes, sneaking onto your computer at night and inserting errors as fast as their little fingers can fly.
Yes, I know spellcheck won’t catch “typos” that result in actual words, those errors that can honestly occur when typing too fast or whatever. (From/form being the most frequent example.) But then, that’s what proofreaders are for. You do have an experienced proofreader (with references!!) at your disposal, right? And for the severely dyslexic authors out there, I’ll correct your minor errors all day long. I’m not that heartless.
But barring a learning disability or an honest mistake that spellcheck won’t catch, you won’t get a break from this particular editor. I’ve turned down submissions based on synopsis alone, leaving the story unread, upon finding oodles of egregious spelling errors. Let me break my opinion down for you: If you’re a writer with sincere publishing aspirations, writing is not a “hobby”, it’s not a “creative pursuit”. It. Is. A. Job. And, like any job, it requires you arm yourself with the necessary tools and skills to be successful. You think that guy digging ditches hasn’t bought some kickass gloves? Think that UPS employee hasn’t learned to lift with her knees?
For writers, proper tools can be expensive—I get it, I really do—but spellcheck isn’t. Comes with every version of Word known to man, in fact. And a simple press of a button could mean the difference between a manuscript getting read…and getting tossed in the slush pile.
For your amusement/amazement, misspelled words found in synopses in one week:
Note: Because my grammar/spellcheck is on at all times, the above words were lovingly underlined in red, making them even harder to miss. For shame.
Friday, May 8, 2009
By Kelli Collins