Blog: And And.

Get yourself a second set of eyes. Seriously they are invaluable.

I don’t have a readers circle that I share my work with before posting it on the site. All of the editing and proof reading is done by myself and that is a dangerous pitfall. I can sit in front of the monitor for hours a day working on my latest project or blog post, I will get everything in order and then let it sit for a day or two. I come back with fresh eyes, but they are still my eyes.

The problem is that I know what my work should say. When you are proof reading it for what feels like the hundredth time and your eyes feel like they just want to fall out of your head, you will miss things. You know what it is supposed to say, so your brain is happy to skip across a misspelled word, or a grammatical mistake. More than once I have hit the upload button only to have someone point out my mistakes once it is out there for the world to see. It feels bad, and I know I should do better.

The Terrible Goblin Brothers is a short narrative poem I have here on the site. It is something inspired by my nephews, and as a gift I had it printed out on fancy wood and framed for my sister and mother. I gave it to my sister as a Christmas gift. She liked it, thought it captured the boys really well. Then my six year old nephew read it. He went word by word as children do reading the first verse in a monotone drone. He stops and points at it.

“Uncle Colin that doesn’t make sense,” he says to me. Thinking he is having trouble with a word I look at the framed poem. “You can’t have ‘and and’ after each other, it doesn’t make sense.” Not seeing it immediately I read the first line again. It wasn’t until he was pointing out my mistake that I saw it, printed and framed for all to see. “In a vast and AND darkened wood.” I never noticed. Not once in the dozens of times I proof read the poem did I notice the mistake. Nobody else noticed either. Not my mum, not my sister or anyone else who read the poem after it was gifted to her.

The brain has a way of skipping over little mistakes like that. Now one of mine stares me in the face every time I visit my sister, and my nephew never lets me forget. There are some techniques I use that do help to mitigate these little mistakes though, and they are something I make sure to use on every story or blog post.

I read right to left, top to bottom. This helps break up the natural flow of the work and it is easier to spot mistaken words or grammar. I then read the entire work right to left from bottom to top. When that is done I have taken to highlighting each sentence and reading them individually. I’ve found these techniques help. Of course there will always be mistakes, so it is best to find someone, or several someones, who can act as a proof reader for you. A totally fresh set of eyes. Don’t let your mistakes hang on the wall and stare you in the face.

Are there any techniques you use to finish up your work? Let me know in the comments below.

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