The tools writers use have come a long way.
The days of handwritten manuscripts and typewriters are all but forgotten by the current generation, and most would say for good reason. The current standard, Microsoft Word, allows for clean, instant corrections and even points out mistakes made as they come up.
Or does it …?
Well … yes and no. While Word is pretty adept at catching typos, the spelling and grammar checker can be a nuisance when it starts underlining names and places as misspellings. That’s fair enough, but where the program really falls flat is context.
I’ll give you an example:
“They don’t know what their doing.”
The problem there is pretty obvious, isn’t it? The sentence is short, basic, but Word may still miss the issue present because “their” is the correct spelling of a word … just not the word that’s supposed to be there. This is a massive issue for any writer who relies too heavily on Word to do his work for him as even a manuscript completely clear of any corrections made by the program can still be an error-riddled mess.
Furthermore, Word’s grasp of punctuation is pretty spotty. The program is decent enough at doing some of the basic work (noting missing punctuation marks at the end of a sentence, for example), but struggles with other aspects, like commas. Take “Mom said to go home, but I really want to go to the comic book store.” The comma in the middle of the line makes perfect sense and reads far better with it, but Word will let you get away with leaving it out. The same would go for a sentence like “I have two apples. However I really wanted an orange.” The missing comma (that should come after “However”) is even more glaring here, but again, Word doesn’t notice.
Italics and quotation marks provide a similar issue. Word has no idea if someone is speaking or if a writer is referring to a film, book, or television show. If the punctuation necessary to mark something as such is absent, the program will be none the wiser.
It’s impossible to say how many manuscripts have been rejected by editors (or readers in the case of self-published authors) because a writer refused to put the necessary time and work into a piece. Writing, like any craft, will reflect a lazy workman. And nobody has any interest in going back to the guy selling handmade furniture that falls to pieces at his feet.