Editing our own work--or any work with which we are overly familiar--has to be one of the most difficult parts of getting our manuscripts ready for submissions--and later, after it's contracted--for final publication. It's difficult to see little grammatical errors and typos. We read "the" when only "te" is there, because our brains know what is supposed to be there, and so they fill in the blanks for us. While, it's a herculean feat to catch every jot and tiddle that may be out of place we want our books to be as error-free as possible.
So, I thought I would post a couple of things which help us to see our work with a fresh eye.
Number one: Put away the manuscript for at least two weeks. When you're finished with what you think is your final edit, forget the manscript for a couple of weeks. Don't open the file, don't read the print-out, don't remember something from page 165, and go back and fix it. (Make a note if you think you'll forget) Leave the story alone completely. This will help your brain "forget" what's supposed to be on the page, and help it to see what's actually there.
Two: Change the font and/or the size of the font that you've been using all along. This will help the words appear different to your brain, and you'll pay closer attention.
Three: You've all heard the "read it backwards" advice. Although, this is not one of my favourites because I find it difficult and impossible to read for context, it does work for a lot of people. Typos will be caught this way, so I include it in the tips because it does work well for some people. Try it, and see how it works for you.
Four: Get a speech recognition software program to read the story aloud to you. (There are some free ones out there if you don't have any on your computer). The voice will sound computer generated, and will not always have proper inflections, but it will read "thee" where you really meant to type "the" or "he" where you meant "she," and so you'll hear those mistakes your brain would automatically correct.
Well, this post is getting a little long, so I'll leave you with those tidbits. Happy editing.
Nicola Martinez, Senior Editor
English Tea Rose