Reality Check No talent for proofing

Fanfare! I didn't win a competition but....

Born Writing

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Apr 19, 2018
Somehow, no matter how hard I try, my proofreading comes up short. I was reminded of this, unhappily, when the first 700 words of my new novel The Editor was on Pop Ups last weekend. Rich did a beautiful job reading the text, glossing nicely over the errors as he encountered them. I read my piece four or five times before posting it and would have sworn it was error-free. It wasn't, and I hope you will all accept my apologies. Don't know what more I could have done. I must be blind to my own work. Anyone have a similar problem?
I found declaring a moratorium on working from my laptop and buying a full size screen, a keyboard and a mouse to go with it made a huge difference to my work. Oh, and new glasses...
I alternate between two documents.

The first is a traditional manuscript version; Times New Roman, 12pt, double spaced.

The other is written into a Createspace 5 x 8 template as it would actually appear in a finished book. Mine is formatted in Garamond, 11pt, with 1.1 spacing.

When I can no longer see the wood for the trees in one document, I switch to the other. It does involve a bit of extra work because changes to one document need to be transferred copied to the other.
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Hi Tom

Don't feel bad! It's called 'word blindness' and it happens to us all. Your brain skims over the shape of the words rather than the words themselves.

When I'm not writing fiction, I'm a copy editor and proofreader. Here are a couple of tips to help you if you have to do your own proofreading:

1. change the font and size
2. read it paragraph by paragraph from the bottom up
3. print it out - it's surprising how effective this one is

Let me know how you get on!
Echoing what others have said:

1. Text to speech, to hear your words read aloud
2. Changing fonts
3. Swapping between screens if this is an option for you (eg, laptop to iPad)
4. Taking a break for a couple of weeks, then reading it again
5. Printing your work
6. Using a distraction-free mode or swapping between light and dark mode, if your software has this facility
I agree with everything above. I find the backwards read is the best for me--reading each sentence forward, but starting with the last sentence in the book. It's horribly tedious, but divorces you from the story to focus simply on the mechanics of each sentence. And having someone else read it aloud to me is priceless (though you have to have a very kind and loving friend).
Similar problem? Yes. You bet.

It was pretty good, actually, Tom. You're just too close to it. Get your ear in rather than relying on your eye. Reading aloud doesn't half help you hear any bum notes, and help zoom in on persiflage.

So you can exterminate words like 'persiflage'.
Totally concur. It's just too much. Apart from cadence. That's got to be down to the writer.

I don't know if anyone else can help if the writer's got a tin ear.

@Tom's House???

He did it again...
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Fanfare! I didn't win a competition but....

Born Writing