Writers know that proofreading is ranked high on the Must-Do-Before-Submitting List. After you've written two or three drafts, it's necessary to go back over the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. You
want to get rid of those pitiful little errors that, if left in, will make your writing look amateurish.
There is more than one school of thought on the basics of proofreading. Some feel you should not search for those grammatical and punctuation errors until you have done revisions on the piece a number of times. Others heed the advice to fix the little stuff as you do your revisions on each succeeding draft. That's the way I approach editing and then proofreading. What's right for me may not work for you. I am always a proponent of doing what works best for you. But proofreading is important either way.
What I'd like to promote today is one step in proofreading that many, maybe most, writers omit. It might be the most important and one you do not want to skip. Read it aloud. Reading your work aloud is more beneficial than most people think.
You can read the piece silently ten times and come to the conclusion that it's now just the way you want it. Ready for submission. Take that last step and read your work aloud from beginning to end. Don't zip through it. Take your time. You will hear problem areas that never showed up when you read the piece silently. You'll find sentences that are too long, places where commas might be needed, repetition of words and even unnecessary words.
A word of warning: Choose the place where you read your work aloud carefully. Sitting on a subway train on your way to work wouldn't be the best place. Nor would you want to read your work aloud while watching your child's baseball game. Forget doing it with a flashlight while in a theater. Find a place where you can be alone and (hopefully) uninterrupted.
It's especially helpful to read your poems aloud. Trouble spots pop up when you hear the words rather than just see them.
Try reading titles you have selected aloud. Occasionally, a story almost writes its own title but more often, we make a list of possible titles and then eliminate them until we settle on the right one. Hearing them could help you decide which works best.
Work on creating a habit of reading your work aloud.