This weekend a friend and I had fun talking about a fine crime novel we’d both read – Mariah Stewart’s Cold Truth. Well written, fun to read. Recommended.
Still, though, I noticed two problems with the novel. Or – more precisely – my Inner Editor noticed them.
Here’s one: A crime victim scratched the perpetrator’s face (page 183). I kept waiting for someone to run a DNA test of the material found under the victim’s fingernails. (My friend said she had the same reaction.) Nobody did.
Here’s another (my friend missed this one): On page 243 Stewart wrote, “Annie poured over the images of the old crime scenes.”
It should have been pored. (Every writer should be able to make the right choice when the “poring or pouring” problem pops up.)
In a 373-page book, it’s easy to miss a detail here and there. That’s why professional writers always ask someone they know to read a manuscript before they submit it.
At the college where I used to edit, we had a whole gang of people, including the president, do the final read-through before important publications got the final okay.
It was humbling to sit around the table and have colleagues without my background and experience find errors I’d overlooked. It was also a good reminder that – no matter how smart you think you are – you need another set of eyes to look over your writing!
Number-one rule for writers and would-be writers: Get at least one friend or family member to read over your stuff before you submit it.