Friday, July 15, 2011

Editing pitfalls

So Annie is reading Xmas Carol. I'll leave it to her to tell you what she thinks of the book. But while reading it, Annie brought something interesting to my attention.

In Xmas Carol, it's the year 2030 and there are some new tech toys on the scene. I called one of the inventions "Lasers" at the beginning of the book -- but Annie noticed the name morphed into "Visors" in later chapters. Okay, that's not so weird, right? I'm human, I made a mistake.

But the strange thing is that I've edited this book at least ten times and never noticed this. How could that be? It's not like I'm a sloppy editor; I'm damn good. But it got past me -- again and again. I wondered why and came up with a notion, a strange notion.

My mind couldn't see the mistake because of the trail my brain left on those early chapters when I wrote them. When I returned to the early chapters to edit them, my brain automatically slipped into its former mindset. The reason I couldn't see the error was because when I wrote those lines, that was the proper name for the tech toy. So my mind was effectively blind to the error. Is that weird or what? It's the only explanation I can come up with.

I did this once before in a book, with a character's name. It was one name -- and it magically changed to another, again without me noticing. In both cases, by the way, I kept the morphed (latter) version. In Xmas Carol we have Visors, not Lasers. Anyway, this is one reason why writers need readers. Thanks, Annie!

This ends today's installment of "Brains: Totally Weird".