Monday, September 14, 2009

Reading Your Work Backwards

Over the years, I’ve ran across the advice of using this method for editing many times. I’ve never really thought much about it and had never put it to the test. While editing my last story, I decide to give it a try. I was amazed by what popped out at me and even more amazed that I did not catch the mistakes during the normal read through.

The steps I took: I began by reading the last sentence, then the next to last sentence, and continued this until I was done with a complete paragraph. After this I reread the paragraph from beginning to end. I made corrections as I went. Some were just straight reading, there were no errors, but a few paragraphs receive complete makeovers. I continued this process from the end of the story to the beginning.

Depending on the length of the story, I suggest doing this in small intervals. The eyes get tired and begin to scan over the words after a while.

Give it a try. There’s nothing to lose, but a little time. I’m sure this process will be useless to some, but you’ll never know for sure until you give it a shot.


Terry W. Ervin II said...

I've heard the read backwards suggestion in the past as well.

My usual method is to read a piece orally, listening to it--catching how it flows and also if there are words missing or the wrong verb tense is use, etc.

The backwards method as described does take time. How would you feel trying to use it for a full novel?

Anonymous said...

I was about to say that it would suck, but really it probably wouldn't take any longer than reading it aloud. Since I haven't yet edited anything of that length, I'll have to get back with you on that. LOL.

SandyDaley said...

My husband told me about reading backwards, he said he learned it in college. It made sense, so I tried it. I couldn't make it work, it irritated me, it's unnatural.

My proof reading skills are so lacking! I see what should be there, not what is actually there. When I read, I don't read individual words, I read groups of words at a time.

For me, reading out loud is the best solution so far, but it is so slow. My eyes start wandering down the page, and I find myself not reading out loud after a while. I have to make a real effort to speak out loud. My best efforts are when my granddaughter is over and I read her the story out loud. I just have to keep her in the room long enough to finish.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, I find that interesting that you read groups of words at a time. It explains why it takes me longer to read than it used to. Before writing, I also read groups, but now I dwell on each word. I guess this is a good thing, in way of editing, but I sure miss reading a book in a couple of days.

When doing forward editing, I tend to read out loud in my head. This may not make sense to some, but I can hear the flow of the words without actually voicing them. LOL, I guess that's from years of biting my tongue and instead of telling someone what I think, I say it to myself in my head.

MysteryKnitter said...

I can't say but interesting.

Cher Green said...

:) It works, but hard to do on a long piece.

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