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Wayne K
09-30-2009, 06:55 AM
Does this really work for finding errors?

If so, is this a possible result?

http://www.clipartguide.com/_named_clipart_images/0511-0809-0313-1607_Crazy_Man_Wearing_a_Straight_Jacket_clipart_i mage.jpg

Darzian
09-30-2009, 07:29 AM
IMO:

Correct on both counts. I have read sections of my WIP backwards and found faults that I may otherwise have missed. Weird, I know. I guess I tend to 'not see' some errors when reading the normal way.

But reading backwards: :eek: I only did it to certain key parts of the story.

scarletpeaches
09-30-2009, 07:31 AM
I write erotic romance, so it could turn it into something interesting, watching the happy ending, uh...go back to where it came from.

Wayne K
09-30-2009, 07:34 AM
I'm rereading this a third time and finding stupid mistakes that I can't believe I missed TWICE!

I'll give it a shot.

katiemac
09-30-2009, 07:47 AM
I suggested this technique when I was a writing tutor, but that was usually for shorter pieces. I don't think I'd ever start from "the end," though, with an entire manuscript backwards. A couple pages at a time, sure, and maybe chapters at a time.

Judg
09-30-2009, 07:50 AM
Does this mean reading it backwards word by word, sentence by sentence, or what? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

katiemac
09-30-2009, 07:53 AM
Does this mean reading it backwards word by word, sentence by sentence, or what? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

You can do it either way. I think reading backward word-by-word helps catch things like punctuation or spelling errors, but reading backward by sentence works for sentence structure and flow. I think you can also catch the spelling errors reading sentence by sentence, so if I edit this way, I usually go by sentences unless the piece is really short.

When I was a tutor I also used to recommend it for organizational purposes for academic papers if the original draft was a bit of a disaster. If your paragraph still made a good amount of sense if you read it backwards by sentence, your organization is probably back on track.

Wayne K
09-30-2009, 07:55 AM
I don't know if I can read it word by word. I meant sentences.

Judg
09-30-2009, 08:02 AM
Hm, I'll maybe give it a shot with the sentence by sentence method. For a chapter or two, just to see if it works. Spelling is not much of a problem for me (I'm one of those annoying people who sees every typo and every spelling mistake in published books), so I don't see the utility for me of that method.

Honestly, this is something I never, ever would have thought of on my own. But I'm willing to try almost anything for a little bit.

KTC
09-30-2009, 01:24 PM
I write erotic romance, so it could turn it into something interesting, watching the happy ending, uh...go back to where it came from.

Gad! Imagine everybody getting dressed. Please!

KTC
09-30-2009, 01:25 PM
I would NOT do this. I don't see the value. Just saying.

KimJo
09-30-2009, 02:43 PM
I know that when I read my manuscripts frontwards, I often miss simple mistakes, but I don't know if reading backwards would help me or leave me looking like the picture in Wayne K's original post. When I read, I generally take in a block of text, such as an entire paragraph, in one glance; I slow myself down a bit for editing (and sometimes catch myself mouthing the words as I go). To read backwards, especially word-by-word, I think I'd have to cover up everything except the word or line I'm looking at.

Yeah, that'd drive me mental... I do see the value in the technique, though.

kct webber
09-30-2009, 03:38 PM
I've tried this, and I couldn't keep at it for long, but it did help with finding mistakes I glossed over when reading forward.

kaitie
09-30-2009, 03:38 PM
I think reading aloud would be more beneficial. It would drive me crazy to read this way. Part of the fun of editing for me is getting to go through and enjoy the story again. This would get old very fast.

Strange Days
09-30-2009, 05:23 PM
I didn't like reading my WIP backwards- what good can possibly come out of reading if you learn what happened in the end right from the start? :tongue:D

JLM
09-30-2009, 05:49 PM
I've never tried reading backwards but when I was in college and had only a word processor with no spell check I would sometimes read my papers upside down to help me find my many spelling errors.

maestrowork
09-30-2009, 05:53 PM
I have tried this but found it very difficult -- almost impossible to do for a novel. Short stories, possibly.

I find it easier to read out loud (or use text-to-speech); I've caught a lot of errors and mistakes that way.

CEtchison
09-30-2009, 06:32 PM
The main idea behind reading your work backwards is that it takes the anticipation out of it. When you've written something and reviewed it numerous times, your brain actually reaches a point of auto-pilot. You're not really reading what is in front of you, but instead anticipating what comes next.

It's no different than having watched the same movie over and over again. You reach the point you can recite dialogue or mimic the character's movements. You may not even need to watch the screen if there is background music or noise to give your brain a cue because it is working from memory.

I was taught this technique in college, and it was reinforced at my first newspaper job. Of course, this was before the advent of spellcheck and each word had to be reviewed. But it is still a useful technique if, like others have said, you do it one sentence at a time. Even if you have a word processor with spell/grammar check, some systems may not catch usage mistakes similar to "there", "their" or "they're". By looking at each individual sentence, you'll find these errors.

Keep in mind, it doesn't matter where you start. Go one scene at a time and work backwards or start at the end of the chapter. It doesn't mean you have to start at the back of the book and work all the way to the beginning.

blacbird
09-30-2009, 09:15 PM
Does this really work for finding errors?

It's a good way to spot small things, like grammatical errors, misused words, displaced clauses, or just plain clumsy sentences, things that more easily slide past if you're wrapped up in the story flow as you read normally. It doesn't help much for larger structural story issues. At least that's how it works for me.

caw

Bartholomew
10-02-2009, 10:47 AM
Does this really work for finding errors?

Save yourself a headache. The purpose of doing this is to remove sentences from context so that the grammatical errors will jump out better.

A far, far more efficient method, slightly less mind numbing, is to have your word processor insert a paragraph break between every sentence. Something like: replace ^P with ^P _ ^P

Now you can read every sentence, displaced from context. Once you've finished, just find and replace ^P _ ^P with ^P.

Also, check out Editor (http://www.serenity-software.com/), which creates similar lists, but also scans for over-usage of words, common errors, and other bugarows that slip into one's MS.

Also, keep in mind that grammar should be on the very bottom of your hierarchy of concerns. Spelling too. Get the story organized, written, and then compelling. Grammar is just a system for making your meaning as clear as possible to other people. If you focus on getting it perfect, without focusing on what you want to communicate, you'll have done a lot of work for no reason.

thethinker42
10-02-2009, 11:10 AM
I'm dyslexic enough without deliberately reading one of my books backwards. LOL Though, as SP pointed out, it might be interesting to give a dirty scene a read that way...

Gillhoughly
10-02-2009, 07:28 PM
Reading aloud is my favorite. I trim dialog down to reasonable and flowing levels.

I also change the font.

Going from TNR to Arial makes tons of errors jump right out.

I hate Arial in a manuscript, so the irritation factor keeps me alert.

Use a font you don't like! ;)

cscarlet
10-02-2009, 07:33 PM
I'm dyslexic enough without deliberately reading one of my books backwards. LOL Though, as SP pointed out, it might be interesting to give a dirty scene a read that way...

Ditto Lori. I AM lysdexic, and I think this idea sounds totally (and unpleasantly) painful.

Gillhoughly
10-02-2009, 08:07 PM
Ahh, but...

http://www.bigcheesebadges.com/product_thumb.php?img=images/dyslexics_have_more_fnu.png&w=120&h=120


Famous writer who is dyslexic...! You saw him the other week playing poker on Castle.

http://www.cannell.com/UserFiles/Image/stephen_script_crop.gif
http://www.cannell.com/dyslexia.php?vid=4


Stephen J. Cannell's WRITING SEMINAR (http://www.cannell.com/page.php?id=6&k=877a8d40b0bb5057d6ed54d8574c7c04&t=1). (Which everyone should totally drop everything go over and READ.)

ishtar'sgate
10-02-2009, 08:39 PM
I would NOT do this. I don't see the value. Just saying.
Me either. I read the manuscript out loud. Writing has rhythm and it's often when the rhythm is off that I find mistakes in grammar and punctuation. Except for commas, lots and lots of commas. My editor has to call me on those.

NDZone
10-02-2009, 09:16 PM
I tried reading it backwards but kept hearing messages to the devil ...

katiemac
10-02-2009, 10:02 PM
I tried reading it backwards but kept hearing messages to the devil ...

Mine says "Paul is a dead man."


Or would that be blacbird's?

thethinker42
10-03-2009, 05:46 AM
I tried reading it backwards but kept hearing messages to the devil ...


Mine says "Paul is a dead man."


Or would that be blacbird's?

Man, you guys get all the cool stuff when you read yours backwards. All I got was "Peanut butter jelly time! Peanut butter jelly time!"

panda
10-03-2009, 09:13 AM
yhw?????

mathewferguson
10-11-2009, 03:52 PM
This reminds me of the technique used to find rivers in text: hold the page upside down and squint a little. Suddenly out pop all the white rivers!

The best technique for self-editing is simply time (if you can afford it). Print the work out, put it in a drawer and forget it for six months. Then get it out and start going through it with the red pen.

BigRed
10-12-2009, 02:15 PM
I read aloud. Amazing how crappy dialogue and clunky sentence structure leaps out at you when you do this!

Bufty
10-12-2009, 06:04 PM
Reading backwards drives me nuts - especially when attempting it word by word.

I can spot errors reading forwards and/or aloud. I sometimes increase magnification so there isn't too much on screen. But it seems to me reading backwards is a desperate last resort for those who for some reason can't read forwards and spot errors at the same time.

To those who use it and find it works, I salute you, but it would drive me insane.