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It’s All in How You Look at It

I bought a new toy a couple of weeks ago, a Sony Reader Pocket Edition. My sweet wife has been wanting to get me a Kindle for a while, but I wasn’t sure which reader I preferred, so I finally did some research. The Sony had the features that were important to me and it was the least expensive. A no-brainer, you might say. So I grabbed us one each.

My wife asked me to put The King of Silk on her reader before anything else. It’s in the editing stage, but we’re getting close, so I downloaded some software, Calibre, and converted it to epub, the Sony’s native format. The transfer was quick and easy.

Testing it on my reader, I skimmed through a few pages and found, to my horror, consecutive paragraphs beginning with my protagonist’s name. What other gaffes lurk within these pages?, I asked. And I read on.

I found several dozen things like that. Nothing major, but repeated words in a paragraph, an extra comma, an inconsistency in the story popped up throughout the manuscript. How could I have missed them? And not only me, but several who’ve been helping failed to spot these mistakes.

Some lessons I have to learn more than once. I’ve noticed this phenomenon when, for example, I have pasted a query from text document to an email. Errors jump off the screen and give me the raspberry. What’s the difference? I’m not used to looking at what I’ve written in that form.

I’ve read over this manuscript in its twelve-point, double-spaced, submission-ready format many times. So many times, in fact, that I can hardly see it any more. But when I moved it to the reader, it became a new work, almost as if another author wrote it. I was more able to process the story and notice when elements looked out of place.

So what can we do? I wouldn’t have laid down the money for this device to use it only for editing, but it’s handy now that I have it. We can also play with the format on the software we use every day. Choose a different page size, font, type size, and spacing to paste the manuscript in. Read it aloud. Do something to turn up the contrast.

I suspect this may have some applications in life, too. What do you think?

Categories: writing Tags: ,
  1. May 24, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    It’s next to impossible to edit your own writing because you know what you are saying and read it into the text. The other day I went through mine hours before submission looking for overused culprits like “had” and “was” and guess what I found? “Some”… it was “some” of this and “some” of that and “some”one and “some”thing. Arghh! This is why we need editors. 🙂

    I use Kindle for PC and love it. Might invest in an ereader but my netbook is great for now.

    Karen ~

  2. Shayla
    May 25, 2010 at 1:26 am

    You know, I’ve heard the same thing about art. If you look at it in the mirror and upside you’ll see the mistakes, it would make sense for the same thing to be said about writing. It’s not a bad idea to change up the font and size and other formatting to get a fresh new look on it. I think even in the writers groups, we all, for the most part, look at stories in the same format, sheet size, font, etc. and could possibly miss quite a bit. Good advice! Hindsight is easier than foresight!

  3. May 31, 2010 at 4:32 am

    I am a horrible self-editor. I can edit other people’s work without a problem, but I can’t seem to catch the little things in my own work.

    Santa brought me a Kindle last Christmas. It has entirely changed my thinking on eBooks. While I still prefer printed books, I’m not hesitant to tackle an eBook when an author asks me to review it.

    I haven’t used the talk function yet, but I would like to see how it works. I have used the notes and search functions, which are both great.

    Enjoy your new toy!


  4. July 10, 2010 at 9:27 am

    This is so familiar. Now I upload my manuscripts to my Sony-E Reader for editing purposes as I always manage to find something which leaves me shaking my head and asking, ‘How did I miss that?’ as it leaps off the screen at me. I know I should follow advce and print off a manuscript to edit it, but somehow I can’t face printing off fifteen hundred pages needed for five drafts and going through it with a red pen! But I KNOW I should!

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