Monday, September 7, 2015

# Monday Musings # On Writing

Weird Writing Tip #3- Edit Backwards


The third in a series where I will be dropping some Weird Writing Tips that have helped me over fifteen years or so of pounding out fiction.


Edit Backwards

This gem of a tip is one I learned about some years ago when I was editing for a small publisher. It really helps fish out some awkward prose and small mistakes.

Typically when we edit a piece, we read through it from start to finish. This is great, of course, and every story should get at least a couple of full read-throughs. But what happens here is, when you are in the "flow" of reading, your brain will sometimes fill in blanks, missing words, incorrect spellings, etc all on its own. To keep this handy brain thing from happening, you have to take the "flow" out of the read and focus on one sentence at a time. 

So the weird tip is: Make a sentence-by-sentence edit pass starting with The End and working backward.

When you read things out of context, your brain won't be as apt to create optical illusions to make you think things are correct when they aren't. Now, I'm not talking about flipping words around backwards, so they look like cuneiform:

I mean reading each sentence normally, but starting with the last bit of your book rather than the first.

This is done literally the way it sounds. Go to the tail end of your manuscript and read the very last sentence. Reading it out loud is even better. Correct flaws, if any, and refine anything that could be smoother. Go to the sentence just before the last and repeat. It will seem funny at first, but that's the point. I recommend this is as one of your last editing passes, after revision and a quick proofread. You may be surprised what you find.

Have fun, and have at it!

~~~
On select Mondays, I like to gab about writing or whatever's going on with me. For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

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