Editing in reverse

In your writing life (and in your regular life too, for that matter) you’re going to need to edit your own work. It might be a manuscript. It might be a resume and cover letter for that job you need to get when your writing work doesn’t pay off. I know all about that. You don’t want to send off a manuscript to that editor or agent that you love with huge typos. That’ll just make you look unprofessional and give them another reason to reject you. And if it’s a job you’re after, ditto.

This surefire method significantly minimizes those little errors that are easy to miss because your mind glosses over them, like the homophones: too/two; their/there/they’re or the slight mis-spellings like: shoe/show.

You’re going to read everything backwards. That’s right. From last page to first, bottom of the page to top.

This method forces your mind to focus on every single word because it has to work to make sense of each sentence. By doing so, all the easy-to-miss mistakes get picked up.

Naturally, your mind and your eyes are going to balk at doing things this way, so you’re going to have to force them by covering the parts of the page that you’re not reading. I use a ruler. It helps me focus and slides up the page as I go.

So that’s my big editing tip for the day. Read in reverse. Use a ruler. It’s not radical, or sexy, but it’s a necessary tool that separates the amateurs from the pros.

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