Relying on Spell Check and Grammar Check
No matter what program you use, it likely has one or both of these functions. However, while both are good things to have, please don’t rely on them. Spell check can’t tell you that you should have used their instead of they’re. It can’t tell you that you’ve transposed words. I’ve even seen cases where the grammar function suggested an author replace “a unicorn” with “an unicorn”, simply because unicorn starts with a vowel, but “an unicorn” is incorrect. Not only does “a vs. and” rely on whether the word starts with a vowel or not, it also relies on what sound the first letter makes. Hence, “an hour” instead of “a hour”, “a unicorn” instead of “an unicorn”. Make sure you read your manuscript during revisions.
And please, do not use global replace or replace all unless you’re absolutely certain the word you’re replacing isn’t part of another word. We don’t really think about it until something draws our attention to it, but so many of our smaller words are contained within larger ones. For example, say you’re writing a short story where your only character is female. You decide to make her a guy. You use replace all to change her to him. Whoops! Now all of the chickens on his farm no longer have feathers. They now have feathims. This can make for interesting reading, but it’s not a good idea.
In one manuscript I received, I sent the author an R&R because she had a really good story with some minor issues. One thing I noticed was an odd use of the word “willow”.
I finally realized the author probably meant to use the word “shallow”, but since this was in an original world, I decided to mention it in my R&R. It could have easily been a situation where the people in her world used “willow” in this fashion. When the author responded to the R&R email, she knew exactly what had happened. She had been using formal language in an earlier version of the manuscript and decided to make the language less formal to keep the dialogue from being stilted. She did a replace all on the word “shall”, changing it to “will”. Hence, “willow breath”. Darn shame, too. I kinda liked the unique usage of “willow”!