Typos in My Manuscript — Betrayed by My Own Body

Cheeto, the typing chimpIt’s really nice to have support when I write. My entire body supports me. My spine keeps me upright in my chair. My butt anchors me there (sometimes too long), and of course my hands and eyes connect me to my computer via the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Obviously, I could not write without the aid of my body, but sometimes it takes that support too far and ends up causing me trouble with typos. How so?

Fast typingFirst it’s my fingers. They’re very helpful. I should provide a little backstory and say that I learned to touch type in high school — home row, QWERTY, and all that. I never have to look at the keyboard to type, just keep my eyes trained on the screen and go. Because of that, I type fast, and my fingers know whole words after so much repetition. I rarely have to think about typing H-E-A-D, I just think about head and my fingers do the rest.

Unless they don’t. Sometimes my fingers think they know what word I want, and they type heat instead. Or hear. And the trouble with this is that spell-checker won’t catch it. It’s a good word. It’s just not the right word.

Then, to compound the problem, my brain gets into the act. My brain is also very helpful. It knows what words I want to write. After all, they start there, right? So as I’m reading over what I’ve just written, my brain scans the words via my eyes and says, “Yep, looks good. A-Okay here.”

Except it’s not. I’ve just written, “She blushed from her neck to the top of her heat.” Lovely. Paints a picture, doesn’t it? And these parts of me, my fingers and my brain and my eyes, are all just glowing with giddy pleasure because they’ve helped me write my magnum opus. Or maybe that’s right my magnum opus. At any rate, while I appreciate the effort and the thought, it’s just not enough. This is why I have to call in more eyes. Fresh eyes that don’t have expectations based on what’s in my head. Fresh eyes that will actually see what’s on the paper instead of thinking they already know what should be there.

All I can say is, thank god for beta readers and editors. When my own body conspires willingly against me, I need all the outside help I can get.

We’ve had lots of articles on this topic here at Indies Unlimited. The Evil Mastermind wrote about the dreaded Typopotamus. Our Fearless Leader lamented about letting a book sit. Even world-renowned reviewer Mr. BigAl wrote about why proofreading is important. No matter which won of us ewe listen too, getting another set of eyes on your work is paramount.

Author: Melissa Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. She has been both traditionally and independently published and lives in a small community in northern Arizona. Learn more about Melissa from her Amazon author page and her blog.

17 thoughts on “Typos in My Manuscript — Betrayed by My Own Body”

  1. I’m a touch typist too, and I know I know what I’ve written. Except when spell checker sometimes decides it doesn’t like what I’ve written and changes it, but the brain still reads what I know I wrote. You can get to recognise your own common typo errors – than instead of that; or instead of of – (or the other way around) you get the picture. I use at least four other pairs of eyes before I’m convinced. Couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t publish anything without bet-readers, proof-readers and editors. Love you all.

    1. Vicky, my problem is, I seem to not have a real pattern. The right word at the wrong time can be absolutely anything, so I really need extra sets of eyes on my work. Beta-readers, yes–where would we be without them??

  2. I hear you, Melissa. My brain and fingers work the same way–but, as a typist, I can’t trust that all of the words will come out spelled correctly. I don’t know what I’d do without a proofreader or two! My favorite boo-boo: Instead of “shirt,” I typed, “He threw his sh*t on the bed.” Yeah, that might work in some other story, but not the particular one I was writing. Ha ha!

    1. LOL, Linda. Yeah, sometimes the substitutions made by our errant fingers can really foul things up. I had one sentence in a published book that said, “ten yours his senior.” Yikes, glad I got that one fixed.

  3. Some of the typos come from the word processor cop who delights in making us squirm when we see what got printed! I always use the speech app on my Mac as a first spotter to read my work back. There’s less chance of the “crazy” words slipping in permanently, and any new readers will have an easier editing task.

      1. I love anything that helps, and I’m also determined to use Dragon Dictation to write. It does a better job than my Mac. I’m a speedy typist—piano background—and many letters get omitted, leading to lots of errors that take a long time to fix. Will offer to write a guest post on the subject one of these days, when I have enough material.

  4. Very cute. And too true. I used to type the way Melissa does, but the aging fairies have visited and I make a lot more errors than I used to. So I can’t even trust that the mistakes will be the usual set, alas. And lately my computer is convinced it has to second guess me, compounding the problem. I was trying to write about bufo toads and the machine changed ‘bufo’ to ‘buff’ seven times in a row. While some of the local bufos may be buff, ‘buff toads’ do not convey the same sense of dread on behalf of my little dog, just a different one.

    1. JK, I feel your pain. In one of my last books, I had a character named Willbe. I cannot tell you how many times Word kindly changed it to Wilbur or wanted me to separate it into will be. Not quite as exciting as “buff toads,” but similar story. Are you in AZ? We had bufo toads when I lived in Tucson, and every evening during the monsoon, we had to take our dog out and do “toad watch” to keep her safe.

    2. Actually, there’s a way to turn off the “corrections” but I haven’t investigated it. Came close to doing so when my frustration began to peak recently. Sometimes the changes are quite obscene! And sometimes I’ve been tempted to leave them and see what happens. Guaranteed I would have the Social Media police shutting me down! Ha ha!

  5. Thanks. No, I’m actually in Panama, and we are loaded with the ‘buff’ little guys. I have been trying for the past two weeks to convince one particular bufo to relocate, without much success. Between the general drought and my leaky hose, my porch is just too sweet a haven. The toad in question isn’t especially big, but the dog weighs three pounds. BTW, one of my neighbors here is a very pleasant Kuna gentleman named Wilbe. It’s not a name I had heard before.

    1. Speaking of a sweet haven, our toads liked to hang out under the bug zapper, waiting for the buffet to rain down on them, then take a swim in the pool, then back to the bug bar looking to get lucky. We’d evict them one by one until they finally got the message and moved to more accepting yards.

  6. I have a similar problem, except I call it “word overreach.” It’s where my brain moves faster than my fingertips. A sentence forms in my head, so I know the actual verbiage I want to put down. But I’m thinking so far in advance – perhaps to the next passage – that I miss a word here and there on occasion. The story is eagerly pressing against the frontal lobe of my brain; trying to spill out of my eyes and onto the computer screen (or sheet of paper, if I’m in a rush and going old school). The condition has plagued me for years, and I know there’s only one cure – a thorough re-read. I backtrack and scour through the wording and catch the void. I think writing pros call that a self-edit. But it’s the only way around this affliction.

    On a side note, I’m also VERY familiar with the physical fatigues of eye strain and sitting too long in what’s supposed to be an ergodynamically-designed office chair. I call the latter “Office Chair Butt.” It’s the bane of a computerized society.

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