Write Right

Write Right

What NOT To Do When Your Mom Is The Proofer


Bradley Rosenfeld and Sue Rosenfeld

Sometimes I feel like I’m being watched. Is there a Grammar Ninja crouching in my closet, a Spelling Commando sleeping under my bed, or a Writing Super Spy peering through my window?  Actually, it’s just my mom making sure my writing is correct. She has hired some of the best spies in the business. Since then, I have been on a mission to discover as much as I can about her spies and to learn what NOT to do when my mom is the proofreader. Here are five things I’ve learned:

  • If you misplace a comma or use a period incorrectly, the Punctuation Prodders (PP) will reveal it. For instance, my mom’s glasses give her special x-ray vision. She notices if I mistakenly use a period instead of a comma.
  • The Spelling Watchers Analysis Team (SWAT) positions itself around the perimeter of your writing project. You may not always see the team, but it is there. If the SWAT detects spelling errors, it bursts through the paper’s margins to rescue the words. The team then deploys special confusion control tactics with a multi-step proofing and review process. You’ll read your document not once, but four times: forward, backward, on the computer screen, and on a printed copy. If this isn’t extensive enough, the SWAT drives you to not only use your eyes, but three more tools to check your work: the computer spell checker, a dictionary, and another person!
  • My mom’s Fact and Date Tracking Satellite (FDTS) includes a calendar and encyclopedia to verify the accuracy of what I’ve written.
  • The Sentence Task Force (STF) will evaluate every sentence for a subject and verb, count how many lines on the paper the sentence travels through, make sure the sentence accomplishes what it is meant to accomplish, recommend how to improve it, and verify each word is used effectively. Run-on sentences are STF’s specialty, and they will gladly shorten them. Relentless, the STF will not sleep until the job is done.
  • According to my mom’s Writing Super Spies, the first draft should never be your final draft. (If I try to turn in my first draft, they give it right back to me.) These Super Spies believe there are always ways to improve your writing. My mom agrees, and loves to tell me her ideas.


Sometimes it is tough having such a vigilant proofreader editing my work. However, I learn a lot. Occasionally I even outsmart the Super Spies! Now that you have been made aware of SWAT, STF, and the others, you too can stay one step ahead of your pursuer or Writing Super Spy!


Photo courtesy of Microsoft


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