Mnid Msytres…Can you read this?

Another reason why we need help editing our writing–and why even when a piece has been proofed numerous times by a handful of different people, we can STILL find mistakes. Obvious errors that make us marvel at how in the world we could have possibly missed them. Well, mystery solved! You can thank your well-designed brain.


My thnaks 2 teh Vrnmt Vramnt for this (I thnik)

Here’s another trick from the Doctor to test your skills. Can you meet this challenge?
We’ve seen this with the letters out of order, but this is the first time we’ve seen it with numbers.
Good example of a Brain Study: If you can read this OUT LOUD you have a strong mind. And better than that: Alzheimer’s is a long long, way down the road before it ever gets anywhere near you!

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!

1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,

B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15!

PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F U C4N R34D 7H15.

To my ‘selected’ strange-minded friends: If you can read the following paragraph, forward it on to your friends with ‘yes’ in the subject line. Only great minds can read this. This is weird, but interesting!

If you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid, too.

Can you raed this? Olny 55 people out of 100 can.

I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed this forwrad it.

Source: Mnid Msytres…


Self-Editing: The Importance of Consistency

When you’re editing your own work for publication, one of the easiest ways to look like an amateur is by not being consistent. Character names, place names, capitalization, spacing, indentations, and general formatting can end up varying a lot when you’re working on a lengthy manuscript that takes months or years to complete.

Even though I’m an editor, I can’t always keep that hat on while I’m in theeditor creative process of writing. There are times when just getting the words out is the most important thing, and the detail work of refining must be set aside for a later time. But that later time must eventually come, and all of those little inconsistencies must be fixed for the sake of the work’s integrity.

To help you understand what I’m talking about in practical terms, here are some actual examples of inconsistencies I found (and fixed) when I got to the final editing stage of Ancient Voices:

    • The name of one of my minor characters had been spelled 3 different ways.
      An easy way to prevent this is to save all of your character names into your spell check. That way if a name gets redlined, you know you need to pay attention instead of just ignoring it. For some reason I hadn’t done that with this character’s name and it almost got past me…almost. 
    • I had sometimes capitalized Winter Festival (making it a proper name) and at other times left it lower case, indicating it was just a general description of the event. I had to decide whether or not to make it a proper name, then go back and adjust everything accordingly. I had done the same thing for words like Shrine and Troll.
      A simple find/replace will work if you have the “match case” box checked. 
    • Ok, so this betrays my age a little, but in High School Business class I learned to type on an electric typewriter. Back then, it was drilled into our heads that you put two spaces after every period and colon. This rule has since changed, but I can’t seem to re-train my fingers. I try for a while, inevitably lapsing back into hitting that spacebar twice after every period. I’ve kind of given up. But obviously I have to fix this before publication, and this involves thousands of minor corrections in a full length work.
      Thankfully, find/replace will correct this also. 
    • At the beginning of some chapters I had included the chapter numbers, and for others just the name was there. For one in particular I had changed my mind about the chapter name, changing it in the body of the writing, but not in the Table of Contents.
      Always make sure that your chapter headers are consistent in terms of formatting, and in content. Do a final check that your Table of Contents page matches up. 
    • Word’s grammar check is frequently dead wrong, but when you’re all finished editing and think you’ve fixed absolutely everything, run it anyway. It caught a couple of errors for me that I was happy to fix. In one place I had written “in” twice but not picked up on it. In another I had used the incorrect word…spelled right…but contextually incorrect. Simple mistakes, yet I would not have wanted them in the published book. 
    • Spoken words are always in quotes, whereas direct thoughts are in italics. I found several places where I had forgotten to italicize thoughts.
      Sadly there is no easy way to find this, you just have to be very aware when you’re proofing. 
    • When your publisher offers you the option of a printed proof or digital one, take the printed proof! Yes, you may have to pay for it. Yes, it will take time to get delivered. All of that is really annoying, when all you want to do is quickly scan through the digital copy and click that “approve” button. But considering how long you’ve worked on your manuscript, you can wait another week. 

Make sure your cover looks good in print and not just on screen. You may have reached the point where you feel like you can’t possibly read through your book one…more…time!  When you’re done having your mental temper tantrum, man up, find a comfy chair, and read it again anyway. Pretend you’re a reader who has just paid for this book and is hoping it will be worth the investment. I found stray errors in my printed proof that I did not see, or could not have seen, in my submitted file. Among other things, I found places with weird spacing and formatting from the conversion process, two places where closing quotes were missing, and not all of the italicized thoughts that I had so carefully looked for and fixed were showing up. I had to correct the ones that had not converted properly. I was extremely glad that I had taken the time to read through the printed proof.

All lessons learned, and I’m sharing them because I know from experience how easy it is to get tripped up by the little things. Self-editing is extremely hard—way harder than the writing itself, and harder than editing for someone else. I hope my book is perfect, but I can’t make any promises. Maybe some reader has already found a mistake I missed and snickered about it. But there are plenty of books out there from big publishing houses that end up with small errors in them, too. I’ve even found some in my beloved Narnia Chronicles collection. Nobody is perfect, not even publishing house staff editors. That doesn’t mean we give up trying, because when there are too many little problems in a book, that’s all the reader will notice and remember. It is a major hazard of self-editing, so if you have to go that route, be prepared to do a lot of extra work, and ask others around you for help. In the end, your creative masterpiece is worth the effort.

Want more self-editing tips?  Click here for another article on the subject from earlier this year.