Reading Aloud: Catching Fossils and FlubsWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Word processors have been with us so long that we don't recall writing any other way. Graybeards like to wax poetic about typewriters and legal pads, yet we won't go there.

These old-timers do make one valid point: the speed of computing leads to careless mistakes. Luckily, a few simply employed techniques help writers find missing words and "fossils," those extra words left when writing quickly and revising lines.

Technique One: The Standard Read-Aloud

This technique can be done even at the last minute, just before a draft is due. Read the draft, start to finish, aloud. Even better, bribe someone to read it to you. This way, doubled words and any words that sound crazy will jump out. The reader will not (one hopes) insert missing words.

Technique Two: The Backward "Read"

Start with the final sentence and read aloud, sentence by sentence, from the end to the start of the project. This method is far slower than method one, yet it has a powerful advantage. The reader gets no sense of the overall message in the project and will be less likely to insert words that are missing and make other silent corrections.

Technique Three: The Pencil Underline

This technique can be used when reading silently or aloud. Take a pencil and lightly underline as you read. This technique helps the reader avoid silently correcting problems.

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