As an editor, I’m sometimes startled by what I find on the pages that scroll across the screen of my laptop. Of course, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. A second set of eyes is always a good thing when it comes to the fiction that our minds spew onto the page. As an addition to that second set of eyes, I believe that our own eyes can serve as another set of eyes if we experience the manuscript in a slightly different way.
Since I started writing, I’ve found, after a not-so-subtle suggestion from D.D. Scott, that reading your manuscript out loud is an excellent way to catch issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. After having done this with some of my own digital scribblings, I’ve become a believer.
The purpose of this post is twofold. First, to encourage you to read your work out loud, both before and after you editor looks at your manuscript.
Next, in addition to the first point, I’d like to encourage you all to read it in a particular fashion, focusing on smaller and then larger portions of the text.
Begin by reading each sentence as if it is alone on the page, focusing on each one’s structure and if it makes sense on its own. I know this sounds basic, but I can tell you that the idea of what the sentence is supposed to say and what the text may convey to a reader may not be identical. Actually, they may not end up existing in the same postal code. A reader’s confusion can arise due to their unfamiliarity with your own colloquialisms, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about trying to be conscious about how your words can be interpreted in a way that you hadn’t intended.
Next, read each paragraph alone to see how it fits together. When doing this, I recommend keeping an eye out for repetition. You don’t want to use the same word too many times in one paragraph or even one page.
You then move out to the page and chapter level until you have completed the whole thing.
What do you think, WG2E peeps? How do you proof your manuscripts pre and post editing? Curious Dudes want to know.