Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hack Writer Proofreading Tricks

When memorizing a piano piece, I learn the piece “backwards.” For example, on a twenty measure song, I will memorize measure 20, then measures 19 and 20, then measures 18, 19, and 20. By the time I reach measure 1, that song is seared into my poor brain.

Now, I’m not the world’s best proofreader of my own work. It is fair to say I sucked at it. Then, in a moment of clarity brought about by a particularly tasty tuna fish sammich and a crisp sauvignon blanc, I decided to proofread my novel going backwards, not page-by-page, but chapter-by-chapter.

I almost doubled my typo and grammatical boo-boo finding. It’s also a slower read. There is something about reading a disjoined novel this way that really brings out the focus on words and sentence structure, rather than falling back in love with my own writing. I already love my writing, Ms. Story, leave me be to fix the mistakes.


  1. Brilliant!

    I shall steal your idea and actually do some revisions.

  2. With my last work-in-progress I read the book out loud and caught more mistakes than usual.

    I heard about this backwards method before and wanted to use it, but I know that it's time consuming.

    If I have to revisit the last wip or start a new one, I'm going to do this backwards proofing. I know that reading in sequence makes me get used to the rhythm of the book, but breaking the rhythm can help me focus on catching errors.

  3. I've tried going backwards page-by-page and found it very hard to do. Going chapter-by-chapter sounds intriguing; I'll have to give it a try.


  4. I use a text to speech program to listen to my MS when I get really bored, and I pick up a lot of those little mistakes easier than if I didn't use the program. The problem is, listening to an entire document takes forever, and its easy to let your mind wander.

  5. I recommend backwards proofing to my high school students. It really can make a difference. ;-)

  6. Thank you for the proofing tip! What a great idea!

  7. What a great idea. I'm taking it. It's mine and you can't have it back! ;-}

  8. That's fantastic! It's helped soooo much.

  9. great idea...I'll have to share w/ my students


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