The Printed Page, Part 2 ~
Anyone can proofread using a computer-based word processing program, but reading your work on the printed page allows you to see more.
There are little nuances and trip-ups we have as writers – bad habits that a program is not likely to find.
It is easy for our eyes to skim rather than read when looking at print on a screen: we see what we think is there and not what actually is. I have a bad habit of not typing the ‘r’ in ‘your’ and so I have a bunch of ‘yous’ instead of ‘yours’ throughout my manuscript. This, of course is best changed using a find-and-replace option on the computer, but I never would have found the error(s) on the screen – ‘you’ is a word and was not getting found as a mistake even though the sentence didn’t really make sense.
There are also crutch words and phrases we tend to use over and over again. Some writers claim that this is indicative of their style, but really it’s just laziness. The technique of word repetition should not be over used – it’s meant to stress a point. You will begin to notice these personal quirks as you look at the printed page – highlight them and then correct them using your word processor.
By identifying habits during the printed read, before you start querying or sending out your manuscript to an editor, you will reduce external expenditures, have a cleaner book, and learn more from your mistakes.
I completely agree about editing your work on paper. At first, I cringed at the extra paper being used for the process, but nothing could have replaced the editing I accomplished through doing so. I, as well as several others, had already looked through the chapters carefully on screen many times. Yet still I found change after change (more of the word choice and crutch word variety—as well as clunky dialogue) that I needed to make. By the end, the printed pages were covered in writing. This was my fifth edit. Going back to make those changes was a tedious process but so incredibly well worth it.
I agree, Lisa,
So often it happens that new writers are unaware of the advantage of the ‘old standard’ when it comes to printing out your manuscript. For some reason, our brain works differently when we see something on the printed page as opposed to on the screen – and if we can find this stuff, you can be sure a reader will too 😉