Rule 5. Learn to spell. Editors aren’t your personal spellchecker.

Believe it or not editors are on your side. They want you to succeed because your success is their success. They also know that, no matter how perfect your story might be, it’s probably going to need some help. A little more characterization here, a little less words there, and yes, correcting the occasional spelling error.

It happens to all of us.

But when your spelling errors become a drinking game and your editor is falling down drunk after the first paragraph, well, then both you–and your editor–have a problem.

You laugh. You scoff. Spelling is a breeze. Well, let me tell you a story. A couple years ago I went back to college as a student so mature that the majority of my classmates were only two years older than my eldest daughter. One of the first semester classes was <gasp> English. Practically remedial English like grammar and, yes, spelling. And half these kids fresh out of high school who laughed, who scoffed, who swore outside of the classroom that spelling was a breeze found themselves struggling. Some even failed. Imagine my shock when the instructor actually announced that words at the beginning of a sentence must begin with capital letters…

The instructor blamed texting. I blamed the school system.

Here is another story of an aspiring writer who couldn’t understand why his stories were getting rejected. I looked over his latest submissions, and of the many glaring formatting mistakes was his atrocious spelling. When I told him, he went, “Huh. I thought they would take care of that.”

Editors are not your personal spellchecker. They are in fact very busy people. They have more than just your story to read. They do more than just read all day.  When they do actually begin editing your story, they want to get into the nitty gritty to make your story better. Correcting countless spelling mistakes is not part of that process.

A final story. This guy submitted a story to an anthology. The story was perfect for the theme and he really wanted to get into that anthology. He got rejected. What the heck, he thought and reread his submission only to discover a glaring spelling mistake in the first sentence and three in total with the first paragraph.

I’m still kicking myself. Lesson learned.



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