My friend knew what word he meant to type. But when I checked the manuscript, it hadn't quite come out that way. Spell check doesn't know the difference. Worse, it sounds nearly the same as the word he meant.
But when something creepy happened, I don't think he wanted to say his character shuttered. Okay, maybe closing the blinds would block the sight of whatever was scarey. But I changed the word to shuddered.
Likewise the manuscript I was checking yesterday. Two letters hadn't gotten typed when he referred to a vintage aircraft, the Stratofreighter. Since the writer isn't an aircraft expert – and since he knew what he meant to type – he missed that his manuscript called it a Stratofighter.
A few paragraphs later, his spell check indicated nothing wrong when he typed that the craft was powered by four radical engines. While the 28-cylinder, 4,360-cubic-inch engines were the largest of their kind, they weren't really radical. Instead, the engine configuration was radial – with the cylinders arranged like the spokes of a wheel.
The novel I just started reading from a major New York house describes a scene in which a ship is floundering. The author comes from Arizona, which is short on ocean access. Still, an editor or proofreader should have known he meant to type foundering.
Having edited hundreds of writers, I've found that most have words that give them trouble. Much as they know what they're supposed to type, certain ones often come out wrong.
My pitfall is typing it's instead of its. I know the difference, but when I'm typing fast, the wrong one usually gets typed. Knowing this weakness, I check for it in anything I write.
But I'm safest if I ask someone else to check for me. It's a good way to insure/assure/ensure (check your dictionary if you don't know which is correct) you haven't used the wrong word.
Picking the right one isn't something you can always take for granite.