Friday, February 10, 2012

Reading Frames

Herewith a small excerpt from The Book Thief’s The Standover Man.

All my life,
I’ve been scared of
of men standing over me.

If all went as planned, you did not spot anything strange.  Now, read it out loud.  You’ll immediately spot the error.  (There is a chance you’ll just see it from the start, but eh, you get the drift.)


This is a method that works extremely well.  The mind works in wondrous ways when reading, if you haven’t noticed already.  A while back, I made a post about the speed of reading which included three ways in which the human mind reads.  I think the whole language method is applicable here.  Or maybe it is something else entirely.

Back in the day when I programmed in QBasic, the animated sprites I made for my games consisted out of maybe three frames.  For argument’s sake, let’s say it was a guy swinging a sword.  The animation frames would go a little something like this : |  /  _   (First a vertical line, then a diagonal and then a flat one, each representing a different position of the sword.)
When show all three after each other, I get an animation that looks like the swinging of a sword, even though the eye works at a lot more than 3 (maybe six) frames a second.  As you (should) know, the mind fills in the blanks and makes it a smooth transition.

I think the same works with reading too.  When the mind sees two “of”s after each other, it realises the typo and presents you with the correct sentence instead of the one with the error.  But when you read aloud, you read each word separately (Phonics or Holistic word recognition) and then you spot the mistake.

So in conclusion, when you finish the final draft of your story, read it out loud to catch all the errors.

Side Note : Somewhere today I read aloud.  The sentence was “one at a time” but I somehow changed it to “one by one”.  The two have a similar meaning, so maybe it was my mind that replaced the slightly harder to say sentence with the easier synonym…

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