Can You Raed Tihs? Why Tihs Stduy Is Improtnat for Wirtres

canyoureadthisYou’ve probably seen this image floating around Facebook. That’s where I saw it. Were you able to read it? I didn’t even stumble over the words.  Amazing, right? Well, as the text indicates, as long as the first and last letters of a word are correct, the mind can still process the word.

It made me realize that if we can still read misspelled words then we can read sentences with redundant or even missing words as if there were no errors. Our mind just overlooks them or fills in the blank.

Why is this important for writers? No matter how many times you read your own manuscript, you will miss something. Not only because you can practically recite every sentence from memory but because it is human nature.

I’ve been letting my manuscript stew so that I can do a final edit with “fresh eyes” before sending it out for others to review {Yikes!}. The last time I read it I came across a duplicate word and thought, “OMG! How long has that been there?” Dozens of reviews and I never even noticed it.

I was reminded of the time I was sitting at my laptop, rubbing my chin, contemplating some piece of my story when…wait, “What is that?” I felt something underneath my chin and went to the mirror to inspect. “Oh hell, it is attached!” Yep, a chin hair! And it was about an inch long! I was horrified!

Of course I plucked it right away but the point is sometimes we don’t see what others may. Oh, and I want to send a special shout out to my husband and friends who let me walk around with an inch-long chin hair for GOD KNOWS HOW LONG! This just goes to show that family and friends don’t make good reviewers either! They love you, chin hairs and all 🙂

So, if you’re thinking of sending a manuscript to an agent or self-publishing but haven’t had another person review your work yet, don’t do it! Find someone, better yet, several people (beta readers, critique partners), and have them review it. Believe me, it’s much better than putting your best face out there only to discover it is marked by a pesky little chin hair or two or three…


20 thoughts on “Can You Raed Tihs? Why Tihs Stduy Is Improtnat for Wirtres”

  1. Such a good point. I’d also extend this concept to seeing the story in our minds as we’ve intended it to be written, not as how it’s actually written. I’m currently going through reviews from my beta readers and was really surprised at how they thought my main character came across. Once they pointed it out, I did a facepalm (or several). I couldn’t see it because I know her too well.

    1. Yes, another good point. Because we know the character so intimately, it seems obvious but sometimes it doesn’t make the translation to paper for our readers.
      Thanks for commenting Kira!

  2. I saw a similar study done by some people from Harvard. Their example had words with the first and last letter correct, but the letters within out of order. The point was that a reader’s mind will sort them out. When I taught writing at Cleveland State University I told students to read their work out loud. Reading it silently allows for the brain to see what was meant, not what is on the page. I need to follow my own advice more often. Like your blog…haven’t had much time to go through the work of people I recently followed…internet out for three days, and now it’s just shoddy again. The price of living at the end of the line on a beach in Costa Rica.
    later… (See what I mean…just let that capital “L” go)

    1. LOL, I didn’t even notice the “L” until you pointed it out. I’ll have to try reading out loud.
      I have to say I’m not feeling sorry for you, bud. I wish I was on a beach somewhere with my “toes in the water, a$$ in the sand, not a worry in the world, cold beer in my hand, life is good today…” It’s 50* here, in May, in TEXAS, WTH!

      1. It works…best self-editing advice I ever got. A linguistics prof friend of mine lives in Lubbock, and he keeps trying to get me to visit…but his e-mails are always full of comments about heat or cold extremes. He can come visit me.

  3. Great idea, Melissa. It is scary sending something out to publishers before lots of eyes have looked at it. We get totally bleary-eyed from looking at our work. it’s just so hard to find every little mistake alone.

  4. I remember this thing from college where it was printed out and posted on the doors of every room in the English building. I do my own editing for the first few rounds and hand my books off to others when I’m settled on them. The thing is that they still miss things from time to time. It’s true that human nature plays a part and some times a person gets drawn into a story so much that they don’t notice a few typos. I know I’ve read a book a few times and on the third read, I find a missing word or the wrong form of a word.

  5. An excellent point. I’m grateful for my beta readers. And I’m embarrassed by the typos I’ve caught after sending a query. 😦

  6. wow! i dont believe it! i actually read that excerpt from facebook! and what a pround statement youve made about spelling when writing….no matter how many times you doucble check…youll always make one or two mistakes!

  7. Our brains are amazing things aren’t they? I sometimes get so focused on the re-writing that I pass over a wrong word several times – taking a break of a week or two while working on other things helps. Thanks for the reminders here!

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