Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Reading Backwards

By Darvell Hunt

When I was a sophomore in high school, I wrote my biology notes backwards with my left hand—and I’m not left-handed. I only took biology to get the science credit and because I knew I should have a background in biological science to round out my educational experience, not because I enjoyed the subject matter. I much rather preferred physical sciences and anything to do with computers.

Writing my notes backwards so I could read them in a mirror entertained me enough to get through the class. I never used a mirror to read them, though, so I guess I did okay in reading backwards because I got four A’s in the year-long class.

This type of reading backwards is not what I mean.

I recently read my 100,000-word novel backwards. I was looking for typos and other errors. I read it one paragraph at a time, but in reverse order, starting with the last page of the last chapter. I was amazed by the number of errors I was able to catch by doing this, because I couldn’t really get into the story. The plot doesn’t flow very well backwards. I was able to see the words rather than the story.

I would recommend that all writers read their stories backwards, by reading each paragraph normally, but go in reverse order. I do not, however, recommend that anyone use this procedure in reading your favorite books by other writers—especially the first time through. Stories don’t make much sense if you do this, but that’s the point.

I also don’t recommend using a mirror for your reading. You don’t want people thinking you’re weird or anything.

1 comment:

KB said...

That is a really good idea. When I'm editing a book, especially if I've been through it several times already, I sometimes use that technique. It really helps.