What is proof-reading? It's not the same as spell-checking, though the two are connected: Proof-Reading makes sure the writing will be read as you intended. Grammar affects the pacing of the story, and helps you catch sentences that are ordered in an awkward or confusing way (dangling participles) that may disorient or confuse the other player(s). Proof-Reading catches errors such as misused words and mangled phrases that spell-checkers miss. Spell-checkers do not catch these because in cases such as typing "Clothe" instead of "Cloth", the word is spelled correctly; it's just not the one you want. Catching this prevents confusion and misunderstandings! SO! Before calling your work done, try using these techniques to be sure it is ready! Run a spell-checking program. If your browser does not have spell-check (I suggest using Chrome or Firefox, which have this feature), then paste it into a program that does, such as Microsoft Word or Libre OfficeWriter. A quick Google search will also give you many websites which will happily check your spelling for free! Read it out loud. Better yet, ask someone else to. YOU know how it is meant to be read, but someone else has only your grammar and punctuation to go off of. If they're reading it wrong, you've written it wrong. However if you're familiar with how different parts of grammar affect how something is read, and can objectively criticize your own choices, you should be fine to read it yourself. When you're proof-reading, look for: Misused words and mangled expressions This is when you use a word that is not appropriate for its context; using the wrong word in an expression (like saying "baited breath" instead of "bated breath") also ruins the expression and/or changes its meaning. Use a dictionary or Google to make sure you are using the right word. Inappropriate pacing Pacing is a multifaceted thing; it is affected by grammar, word choice, and how descriptive you get. Make sure your action-focused scenes aren't reading too slow, and that your descriptive scenes aren't being fast-forwarded by speedy pacing. Unclear subjects Be certain that your words clearly show in conversations who is talking, and in narrative, what is being talked about. Dangling Participles A dangling participle is when your sentence is ordered in an awkward or confusing way. "Rotting, my brother carried oranges up from the cellar" means your brother is a zombie who delivers fruit "My brother carried rotting oranges up from the cellar" means you should check your produce expiry dates more often. Runon sentences Not all spell-checkers catch these effectively. When your sentence goes on too long, even if it's broken up with commas and such, it can not only effect the pacing, but also make it unclear how the sentence should be read; which words one should stress and what the object of the sentence is, because the longer it goes on the more confusing it gets; the bottom line is that if you are out of breath at or before the end of a sentence like you probably will be if you read this one aloud, then it's time to break it up into smaller, clearer sentences. ;-) SOME COMMONLY MISSPELLED/MISUSED WORDS FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE: Affect vs Effect A very common mistake; ""Effect" can be used as a verb, but it doesn't mean the same thing as "affect". For example, "The plague affected Cherbourg" means the city of Cherbourg is sick with the plague; "The plague effected Cherbourg"means the plague did... er, a Cherbourg. That is, "affect" means the subject is somehow a part of or an state inflicted upon the object, whereas "effect" means the subject is causing the object." - @RiverNotch "Accept" vs. "Except" "Accept" means to receive "Except" means an exclusion "I accepted every gift except the one with the odd smell" "Alot" and "Allot" "Alot" (wrong) is not a substitute for "a lot" (right). Alot is not a real word, although it has become acceptable as a slang contraction in informal writing. "Allot" is a verb meaning to dole out. "He got his allotted rations at noon" Apostrophes (') Outside of acronyms, these are marks of possessives or contractions, not plurals "Mr Brown's cars are blue and white" "Mr Brown's car's acting up again." (Car's is being used here as a contraction of "car is") When pluralizing acronyms, apostrophes are only to be used if the acronym is spelled with periods. Additionally, Acronyms should always be in upper case, and the S in lower case "I have to organize all my CDs today" "If there are two Earths, are there also two N.A.S.A.'s?" "Bate" vs "Bait" "Bate" is a verb that refers to birds (typically hunting birds like hawks or falcons) beating their wings to attempt to leave a perch. "Bait" is something you leave out to attract something else. Today, "Bate" is almost exclusively used in the expression "Bated breath", which refers to someone (metaphorically or literally) holding their breath in suspense. "The audience watched with bated breath" "We baited the fishhooks with worms" "Breathe" vs. "Breath" "Breathe is a verb, pronounced with a long E "Breath" is a noun, pronounced with a short E When you breathe deeply, you take deep breaths "Break" vs "Brake "Break" can mean to rend, to damage, or be an informal noun meaning a rest "Brake" is a mechanism to slow something down. "you're gonna break it!" "I need a break in routine" "Take a break, you've been working hard" "Hit the brakes or we'll crash!" "Cloth/Cloths" vs. "Clothe/Clothes" "Cloth" is a synonym of fabric, pronounced with a short O. "Cloths" is the plural form. "Clothes" are garments you wear, pronounced with a long O. "Clothe" is a verb meaning to put clothes on. You make clothes out of cloth. When you dress someone, you clothe them "Dialog" vs "Dialogue" "Dialog" is a popup of text on a computer "Dialogue" is conversation or spoken words "A dialog box popped up, what do I do?" "I just can't get interested in this character's dialogue" "Die/dying/died" vs "dye/dying/dyed" This can be confusing because both of the active (-ing) forms use a Y, but there is a difference in meaning between die/died and dye/dyed To die/have died makes one dead To dye/have dyed means to colour or have coloured something using a dye. "Discrete" vs "discreet" "Discrete" means distinct or separated. "Discreet" means politely private, unobtrusive, on the down low. "The instructions were in three discrete steps" "She discreetly handed me a napkin to clean the spill with" "Dual" vs "Duel" "Dual" means two of something. "Duel" is a one on one contest, such as a fencing match. "It's a dual-purpose tool" "I challenge you to a duel!" "Elicit" vs. "Illicit" "Elicit" means to draw out "Illicit" means morally wrong or illegal "Through torture, they elicited the information" "It turns out he was involved in some illicit affairs" Ellipses (...) Ellipses may be used correctly in many ways, but to indicate quietness or trailing off is not one of them. Use descriptive words instead '"Hi" she said quietly' not '"hi..." She said' "Fiery" vs "Firey" "Fiery" is an adjective indicating something possesses the qualities of fire. "Firey" is not a word, it is a misspelling of "fiery" You can remember the difference by sounding it out syllable by syllable. It's "Fy-er-ee", not 'Fy-ree'. Also by using a spell-checker. "It's" vs "Its" "It's" is a contraction of 'it is', whereas "its" is a possessive of 'it'. "It's always shedding its fur on my carpet!" "Lie", "lay", and "laid" ""Lie" (not the one involving saying falsities) means to put the subject down. "Lay" means to put the object down. It is also the past tense for "lie" "Laid" is the past tense for "lay" This means that with "lay", there's an object, whereas with "lie", there isn't one. For example: compare "I lay myself down" and "I lie down". They both mean the same thing, but with "lay" one has to state what is being put down first, whereas with "lie" it is clear that I am the one putting myself down." - @RiverNotch (rearranged/paraphrased for guide formatting) "Lose" vs "Loose" "Lose" refers to a loss "Loose" is the opposite of "Tight" "My wallet is on a chain so I don't lose it" "I think I lost weight; lately my pants are loose about the waist" "Pique", "Peek", and "Peak" Pique means a height or breaking point, it is metaphorical Peek means to sneak a look Peak is the literal top of something "The secret piqued my curiosity" "The children peeked into the living room, hoping to see Santa Claus" "He planted his flag on the mountain's peak" "Secrete" vs "secret" "Secrete" is a verb that means you are producing secretions, like a cow secretes milk. The second E is pronounced as a long E. "Secret" means something private or hush-hush, both Es are pronounced as short letters. "There", "Their", and "They're" "There" indicates a place "Their" is a possessive of "they" "They're" is a contraction of "they are" "they're leaving their stuff over there" "Too" vs. "To" "To" can be a preposition, or put a verb into infinitive form as in "To run" "Too" can mean "as well" or "also", it can also mean an excess. "I can do that, too!" "Too much cute!" "How sweet to sing all day" "Take this package from here to there" "One O said to the other O, 'There are too many of us!" "Waste" vs. "Waist" "Waste" is an unnecessary loss "Waist" is a part of the body between the hips and ribs "It's a waste to throw leftovers away" "The belt fit snugly around her waist" "You're" vs. "Your" "You're" is a contraction (two words squished into one) of "You Are" "Your" is a possessive of "you" When you aren't sure, try substituting the word for "you are". If it makes sense, use "you're", if it doesn't, use "your".