We all make mistakes. What has been your most stupid/funny/embarrassing typo? Have you ever had anything published and then – too late – spotted some terrible mistake?
I’ve had my novel proof-read, and it was worth every penny. The proof-reader, Michael Jarvis, was excellent, and spotted dozens of tiny mistakes that I had missed time and time again. Most of these were because of ‘automatic typing’, many are due to the vagaries and subtleties of the English Language.
The main fault I had was over-use of a passive construction using a gerund e.g. ‘she was trembling’. This is much better as an active sentence: ‘she trembled’. I know this by now, but it was a prevalent fault in much of my early writing and the odd one still hangs around.
Internment not interment: I wasn’t even aware there was a difference until my mother pointed this out.
Using ‘thank-you’ not ‘thank you’: I find I automatically put the hyphen in, but there is a difference. For example: ‘He said a quiet thank-you’, ‘He whispered, “thank you.”‘
Discrete instead of discreet.
Alter instead of altar.
Dammed instead of damned.
Queueing or queuing: there seems to be some controversy here. I prefer ‘queueing’ but neither look correct.
Split instead of spilt: not an easy mistake to spot.
Using a name of a real organisation and then discovering that, six months after I wrote that section, it has rebranded with a completely different name that is unsuitable for my purposes. I have had to invent an organisation instead with a slightly different name.
And finally: when my protagonist got chocolates, he got ‘Diary Milk’!
In conclusion, my recommendations are: don’t trust your spellchecker, read your work out loud, and, better still, fork out for a professional proof-reader if you are considering publication.