Friday, November 11, 2011

Mind Games: Finding Errors in your MS

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh

It amazes me how many times I can read my novel and continue to find errors. We all know you can be too close to your work and just can't see them. But I'm beginning to believe that closeness will eventually enable you to "see" the errors. You should know your story so well, that by the time you're doing your final edit, all you're doing is reading the words. Not the story.

I thought a fresh set of eyes would help find the word errors, but when someone reads your book for the first time, and they get wrapped into the story... a good thing... they may just miss those incorrect words because they can't see them either. 

The reality is, our brain sees what it expects. 

How do we fix it? Careful, slow, reading, word, by word, out loud. Last week I wrote a post...Weeding your MS, and the week earlier The Process of Editing, and I believe you don't quit until you can do a complete read without an error. You owe it to yourself to have a perfect product. Your mind will play games. The question is, will you let it win?

Could you read the words above? Are you willing to take the perfection challenge?  

Happy Veterans Day!

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. I Could read the above. I used to work in advertising...and ALWAYS had someone proof my work. Even in a simple headline, I would miss a misspelling. I've learned to not read while editing, but just look at each sentence. Laborious, but it works the best for me.

  2. Love that, Karlene, and I could read every word of that paragraph. Shocking!

  3. Our brain sees what it expects, so true. We are trained in so many ways, reading included. It scared me how easily I could read this. This is a lesson for all of us. Thank you so much!

  4. Em, I do believe that is the key... looking at the words, not reading the work. The final edit. Yes.. laborious is the word I'd use too. Thanks for the comment.

  5. I could read it too. Amazing. So... think of all those that slip in during the heat of passion, action, and thrill in our books. Of course we'd miss them.

  6. Heather it is scary. I too read it easily. Our minds see what we expect. When I read this I thought what a great lesson.

  7. So true! It seems it doesn't matter how many eyes are on the manuscript, an error sneaks through. Now I know why!

  8. Can't see the forest for the trees. I'm seriously considering hiring a copy editor to clean my MS up because I can't see the errors anymore. And I've read this sucker up one side and down the other. Next step, let my auto reader read it. It's my last hope.

  9. Wow. I could read this too. But it's true everything you said. Things get by us and we miss things no matter how many times we go through it. An editor must have x-ray vision to be able to find errors that you could not. I find things easier, though, if I print it out. But I can't print out a whole mss any more. So, I'm just trying to do it best I can.

  10. Our minds see what we expect. When I read this I thought what a great lesson.