By the same token, this can make us kind of blind to things in our own work. Once we’ve written a sentence, we tend to gloss over it. Especially after reading it three or four times. We get overly-familiar with it. Even when we’re re-reading it in an edit draft, a lot of the time we’re just taking in the big picture and not looking at what’s actually there on the page. It’s how we can read a sentence a dozen times and never notice that glaring typo in the middle of it. Or not notice there’s a word missing altogether. Or that twice on this page we refer to Stu as Ted, but we don’t think about it because we know Stu was called Ted in an earlier draft and so they’re the same person in our heads.
So here’s my quick tip for you. Do at least one pass where you don’t read your story. Read the words on the page. Actually look at each individual word there on your screen and. Read. Each. One. Of. Them.
Yeah, it’s slow. And it’s tough. That sounds silly, I know, but it is super-tough to go through a story this way. Especially a story we know. You need a ton of patience and focus. But I guarantee you’ll find dozens of things that were missed on earlier passes.
Anyway… remember what I said about how we get overly-familiar with things? Well y’see Timmy, by changing the font, I’ve just made the whole document unfamiliar to me. The spacing’s different. Things will sit on each page in new ways. Which means I’ll be looking at it with fresh eyes, and things will be a little easier to catch.
And there you go. This writing tip has been brought to you by cranberry sauce. And by Nana’s special holiday rolls.
Until then, go write.