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Initial proofing of your stories

farseas

When I was in High school and college, my mother, who was a english teacher, gave me a great proof reading hint to find miss-placed and omitted words. Read the story out loud. Use your regular voice and most of the placement mistakes will become evident. You might not catch them all, but you should catch most of them.

I appreciate all the effort you authors have put in to the story writing for us. Please disregard the harsh critics and keep writing.

Thanks again for your efforts
Frank Rosenbaum (an avid reader)

Replies:   Switch Blayde  Argon
Crumbly Writer

There are lots of variations on that theme. Along with reading it aloud, many use text-to-speech software, while others suggest reading it aloud, but backwards (ex: last sentence, 2nd to last, 3rd to last, etc.).

I'll admit, I've never done it, since my early stories were in the 350,000 to 400,000 word variety, so it would take weeks to listen to it read aloud, however now that my books are shorter I should really attempt it.

farseas

Since my writing was never more than a few pages, I can understand your problem. If it's a new story that will be in chapters, it might be easier to read aloud after you write each chapter. It would be unrealistic to expect that you would do this for existing stories, unless you were going to do a complete rewrite.

Switch Blayde

@farseas

There are two reasons for reading it out loud.

1. As you said, to hear the words.

2. But another reason is to slow you down. You end up reading slower and reading each word since you have to say it. I have the misfortune of being a very slow reader so I do this one naturally which is why I catch most errors.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

2. But another reason is to slow you down. You end up reading slower and reading each word since you have to say it. I have the misfortune of being a very slow reader so I do this one naturally which is why I catch most errors.

Alas, I studied speed reading and the old-fashioned 'typing' (on a manual typewriter). Despite being retired for over twenty years, I still type at around 250 words/min. (though it often takes much longer to build the story in my mind as I write), and I used to read (decades ago) at nearly 1,000 words per minute.

Now, I struggle to slow down (like Switch) in order to catch as many typos as possible, and my thoughts dictate my typing. While you can speed up test-to-type software, it makes it increasingly difficult to understand (though my blind friends disagree with that). The end result, is I get frustrated listening to the slow pace of reading aloud.

Still, reading aloud is a decent technique, though reading backwards misses any potentially overlooked plot holes.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Alas, I studied speed reading


I took the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading class. It did no good.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

I think the MOST IMPORTANT thing to read aloud is the dialogue of characters, especially when starting to write a new story.

If you want to know if your character sounds natural, you must hear them.

I suggest reading every line of dialogue aloud during the initial drafting, at least until you know them well enough to "hear" their voices in your head.

Zom
Updated:

I find the best method for me is to use at least two passes.

The first for language, syntax, continuity, consistency, and fact checking - and gross errors.

The second for 'errors' in spelling, incorrect words, and punctuation etc. The second pass has to be slower (but not out aloud), and I usually read in reverse paragraph order so that the flow of the story doesn't obfuscate the imperfections.

I have a set of searches that I do to detect the mechanical inaccuracies (quotation mark balance, missing/incorrect sentence closures etc.) and I usually perform those searches between the two reading passes.

Reading out aloud would slow me down way too much and lead to too big a lag between editing and release, especially for the more prolific authors.

That's just an outline, and it isn't a perfect method, just like I'm not, but my analyses show I now get 90%+ percent of the problems, so it's good enough for me.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I took the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading class. It did no good.

It only works if you continually reinforce it. Thus, since I've slowed my reading considerably to notice more errors, I'm sure my reading speed has tumbled as a result. Also, in most classes, there's a certain amount of student pushback. "I'm skeptical of this approach, so I'll hold back on my approach", and then they're surprised when their reading doesn't improve much.

Argon

@farseas

The big problem with the read aloud technique is that you, as the writer, know what you want to write, and your brain will fill in missing words or endings while reading, whether silently or loudly. You can only concentrate for so long (1 page?) before you'll read what should be there.
I usually run text and syntax checks in two different text processors (Pages and Word) because they are not fooled as easily when prepositions or verb endings are bollixed up. Of course, they miss a lot too, such as semantic errors (wrong verbs, wrong nouns, continuity errors).
Then it's off to a second pair of eyes with a naive brain behind them. Or, if you have enough time but no editor, let the story sit for a month, write something else and then look it over again.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Argon

The big problem with the read aloud technique is that you, as the writer, know what you want to write, and your brain will fill in missing words or endings while reading,


I find that is true. When proofing a chapter, I start with reading the chapter from start to finish to find and correct as many errors a possible.

Zom defined the method I use for my second pass (i.e. reading the story from finish to start one paragraph at a time.

Even with all of my effort to find and correct an error, I find that I read over many mistakes. That is why I finally sought out the assistance of an editor.

sejintenej

Difficult to explain but some / many events are foreshadowed by previous hints. Having tried to find obvious flaws, spelling errors, lack of clarity (laugh - most of what I was writing was legalese where lack of clarity is required!) I would start with the first "hint" and then look through to find the followup / foreseen event and check that the connection was right. That invariably meant I saw a lot more and spotted things I could correct. Having done the first one then the second then the third etc. Eventually I came to the events and searched backwards doubling the previous connection but also seeing the early text in a new light. Then the document went to a colleague who would have to actually make it work!

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