Many times on Workshop Wednesdays typos are pointed out by fellow writers in the comments, and rightfully so: making your query and your manuscript as clean as possible is important. However, recently one commenter pointed out a typo in the first line and asked, "Would a typo in the first line not make you want to reject it?"
There's a distinct difference between a typo and a writer who doesn't have a good grasp of the English language. I'd like to think that a lot of the time I can tell the difference. Sure, typos might hurt your query and you should do your best to eliminate them, but a good query, a great and intriguing story, will rise above all typos.
I have always been intimidated with all you English majors out there. I got A’s in creative writing but my sentence diagraming, spelling and comma usage went the way of Tom Rogers, the sweet boy sitting next to me in class. He never did ask me out and I almost flunked.
That ability, rises above rules, (ah, some rules), I find reassuring. It levels the playing field a little so we walk-ons get a chance too.
To ammend my earlier comment, typos are not rules, they are ovelooked stupid errors.
Perhaps my comment is wishful thinking.
Correct me if I'm wrong.
Twice, I have misspelled an author's name when doing a comparison. I'm blaming my Kindle because I don't get to stare at the front cover with the correct spelling every time I pick the book.
What's worse is that in real life, I'll say the author's name the same way I spell it--completely wrong.
That's reassuring. It's amazing how you can proofread a letter a dozen times, and then have others proofread it, only to still find a typo right after you hit the send button.
I have a tendency to omit a negative in sentences;for example, leaving out 'not' when it is needed. Sometimes it introduces a conflict, but if there isn't a lead-in I end up saying the exact opposite of what was intended. It can be hard to spot in a proofread. Another set of eyes might not read it as an error.
Amen, Jessica. Let (s)he who has never made a typo throw the first spool of correction tape.
*smiling @Other Steven King comment* this was interesting view into an editor's mind. Thank you for the post.
Trick I learned: read from last paragraph backwards. You can find all sorts of editing improvements and typos with a simple change of view.
It's nice to know that style/talent stands out above grammar. Thanks for the post.
Which I obviously didn't do. . . Stephen not Steven. Where is that correction tape spool? Na ha! Missed me!
Typos happen. Half the time I misspell my own last name if I'm typing really fast (the t and i like to switch themselves around). And it bugs me when I see the occasional commenter react almost with glee when pointing out another's error. I get it. It's a competitive marketplace, and we all want any advantage we can. But I'm sure we've all messed up some important document with a misspelled word that we didn't notice until it was too late. As much as we should all proofread and catch what we can, I think it'd be a bit hypocritical for anyone to make a single typo the arbiter of success or failure.
It's always nice to read posts like this. I comfort myself knowing that agents won't reject an awesome story idea because of a minor error. At the same time, you don't want to do anything to hurt your query's chances, it's tough enough!
Thanks for taking time to address this little point. I admit, I have obsessed over this in the past. With all the RULES out there, it's good to know there is actually some room for human error and that it really is okay (sometimes) not to sweat the small stuff :)
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