in Editing

Our List of Sneaky Words that Spellcheck Doesn’t Find

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that indie authors in possession of a good book must be in want of an editor.

But as every savvy indie author knows, a good editor is expensive. HOWEVER, the more refined your manuscript is when said editor gets to it, the less time they’ll have to spend working on mechanics, and the more time they can spend focusing on your content and getting it ready for publication.

In Wise Ink’s collective years of experience editing, we’ve discovered that having good mechanics means more than just knowing where a comma should go. It has to do with the words you use, and a lot of the time, spellcheck doesn’t catch mistakes. So, without further ado, here is our list of commonly confused words that muck up a manuscript:

  • its/it’s: It’s been a great day, except for when the dog broke out of its cage.
  • they’re/their/there: Do you see over there? They’re bringing their spy gear on the plane!
  • pedal/petal: I pedaled my bike past the pretty flower petals.
  • peaked/peeked/piqued: The giant dragon at the top of the mountain peak piqued your interest as you peek out from behind a rock.
  • lay/lie: Present tense: Lie down on the sofa and lay down that cell phone! (Lay needs a direct object, lie doesn’t.) Past tense: well, this gets mega-complicated, so just go here for the best explanation.
  • what ever/whatever: “Whatever!” Jimmy screamed as he slammed his door. “What ever does he mean? Teenagers are so confusing!” exclaimed his mother to the empty room.
  • loose/lose: I’ll lose Fido if I let him loose!
  • prey/pray: My sister prayed that the mice, the food for her falcon, a bird of prey, would survive the frost.
  • to/too: And so I said to him, “You are too much!”
  • fair/fare: It’s not fair that they charged us such a large fare to cross the bridge on the way to the fair.
  • where/wear: Where are you going wearing my sweater without asking?
  • your/you’re: You’re better than the sum of your parts.
  • vane/vain: I’m writing about the rooster-shaped weather vane, and you’re so vain you probably think this post is about you.
  • I/me: “Ricky and I love taking pictures. See? This is his sister and me at the beach.” (The trick with this one is to remove the other person to see if the sentence still makes sense with just you as the subject. “This is I at the beach” doesn’t make sense, so you know “me” should be used.)
  • weather/whether: Without checking the weather, I couldn’t figure out whether or not I should bring a coat.

There are loads more of words like these that can sneak into even the best writer’s manuscript. Authors, do you have any others that pop up in your writing?

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