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Don’t Sotp Proofreading

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proofreadingIt’s one thing to kill your darlings, but have you ever wondered how renowned authors get away with murder? That is, not the CSI: Miami kind but killing their sentences with poor proofing skills.

One bestselling novel identifies “Chapter Fourty” and has Orlando east of Daytona Beach. The author got into deep water for that geographic goof.

Common mistakes are innumerable.

Use “it’s” only as a contraction of “it is.” “Who is” contracts to “who’s” and whose denotes ownership. And you thought Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first” shtick is confusing?

You may shorten the 1960s to the ’60s but not the 60’s. An apostrophe, however, is necessary when something is omitted. Homebuilders advertise condos “from the $60’s,” meaning prices start at $60,000.

It’s scary that properly spelled words are contextually incorrect. Disney World’s Haunted Mansion has a tombstone inscribed “Lord she is thin” instead of thine, and a grave marker in Montreal proclaims “Your forever in our heart.” And that is engraved in…

Speaking of mortality, commas can kill. Consider a governor’s script freeing a felon written improperly as “Pardon not, guilty.”

Then there are homophone hang-ups. Homer Simpson is an American idle, and when his dogs paws they stand still. Don’t tell Canadians we eat chocolate moose, and in your martini a whole olive doesn’t have a hole. Although a pony with laryngitis is a little hoarse, it’s best not to lead it to water with reigns to make it drink.

Writers need fresh eyes to review final drafts.

In a book review, I referred to a detective paring back onion peals in an investigation. The tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells may peal, but onions never will.

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L. Dean Murphy is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association.

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