Monday, November 24, 2014

Looking Good the First Time: If you don’t bother to sepll-cehck, nobody’s going to take you seriously

Copyright © 2010 Eilis Flynn
Originally published by 1st Turning Point, 2010
As a copy editor, the one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that everybody thinks that their spelling and grammar and punctuation are just fine. “Oh, you don’t have to do anything to my work,” they always say, sometimes with a smirk. “My mom’s always said that my writing was so good!”
Well, guess what? Your mom lied. Your work needs editing. It needs to have the spelling double-checked (and no, if you’re an American, you can’t use British spelling, and no, you can’t just randomly capitalize words because you think it looks neat), the grammar double-checked (and since grammar is no longer being taught in schools, double-double-checked), and if you can’t figure out when to use a semicolon and when to use a colon, why would you think they’re interchangeable and everyone else is wrong when they say they’re not?
Anyway, as you might have gathered, I think it’s fair to say that everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to have their work proofed and read by someone else. This needs to happen simply because your work—your writing—is the face by which you want to be known. And if your work is littered with misspellings, poor grammar choices, and illiterate attempts at punctuation, your work doesn’t come off so good. Spell-check, while it is a wonderful stopgap measure, can’t do it all. First of all, remember that the feature was designed by engineers, and engineers are notoriously poor in their spelling, grammar, and punctuation choices. And second, spell-check was designed to make sure that the words being used in the document are real. Whether the words are appropriate in the document, again, that’s not spell-check’s job; it’s yours.
Haven’t you ever looked at a website that’s littered with typos and grammatical errors and winced? Of course you have. Everyone has. And if that website’s a retail site, trying to entice you to buy something, haven’t you had second thoughts about buying? After all, if the website owner can’t be bothered to check for spelling and grammatical mistakes, who knows what else they aren’t bothering to do? That goes for your writing, too.
So do yourself a favor. Read and proofread your work. Learn the grammatical rules and apply them to your own work. Punctuation isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a given. Make your writing the best it can be by making it the easiest to read. Or I’ll hunt you down and I will use my red pen on your work. Don’t think I won’t.
Eilis Flynn has worked at a comic book company, a couple of Wall Street brokerage firms, a wire service, a publishing company for financial cultists, and a magazine for futurists. She’s also dined with a former British prime minister and a famous economist, can claim family ties to the emperor of Japan (but then can’t we all?) and the president of a major telecommunications company, worked at most of the buildings of the World Trade Centers, stalked actress Katharine Hepburn (for one block), and met her husband when he asked her to sign a comic book. With all these experiences (all of which are true!), what else could she do but start writing stories to make use of all that? She’s written a variety of things that also don’t seem to belong together, but they do: comic book stories both online and in print, scholarly works in a previous life as a scholar, book reviews and interviews, and articles about finance (at odds with her anthropology background), before settling down to write romantic fantasies about the reality beyond what we can see.
Eilis lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats. She was written Superman family stories for DC Comics (as Elizabeth Smith). Her first five novels—The Sleeper Awakes, Festival of Stars, Introducing Sonika, Echoes of Passion, and Static Shock,and Wear Black (cowritten with Heather Hiestand)—are available at most online retailers, and her novella,Riddle of Ryu, and short story, "Halloween for a Heroine," is available at the same digital stores. Her latest comic book story, ”30-Day Guarantee,” is available at
If you’re curious to find out more, you can check out She can be reached at If you’re looking for a professional editor for your own work, check out her rates at

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