Sunday, 31 May 2009

Mind Tricks

I was going over an old published story yesterday with a view to sending it out abroad. I read through it once. Went through it again, altering a bit here and a bit there so it would fit in with the overseas market. I was about 50 words short so I went through it again and it was only when I decided I’d found a sentence that could be lengthened that I really read it.

I had referred to a car with cream yellow upholstery. Cream yellow? What the hell is that? I remember writing the story. I remember seeing the car in my mind. It had cream leather upholstery. For some reason my mind had sent the word yellow to my typing fingers and they had obeyed. And what was worse, every time I reread the story I saw yellow and read leather because I think I was seeing the car and not the words.

I’ve just checked the magazine version and the line had been published as “cream-leather upholstery.” Now there’s a fiction editor who knows what I mean even if I don’t say it!

I often write “the” instead of “and”, so a sentence will read, “The fox the the butterly . . .” but fortunately Word will pick that one out and wave it under my nose.

Anyone else do things like that? Please say you do!

14 comments:

  1. I do things like this all the time, and it's very hard to pick up in your own writing. I even do it when I'm talking - that's earned me some very funny looks.

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  2. I do it as well, Teresa. I often duplicate words which are invisible to me on the screen but get picked up when I read them on paper. I really think sometimes our fingers work too quickly for our minds to catch up!

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  3. There are certain words that I just can't type even though I know perfectly well how to spell them. A favourite is particularly which always comes out as 'Particulalry'. There are others - and luckily most of them are picked up by spell checker! I think it's because I'm not a proper typist and I don't use the right fingers on the right letters.

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  4. Thanks, Suzanne! It's good to know I'm not the only one. I don't think I've ever done it while I'm talking though!

    You too, Lynette - those fast fingers can be a problem!

    Not necessarily, Helen! I am a proper typist and I still get words wrong. It's funny how we make the same mistakes over and over isn't it!

    Must be something to do with being creative, don't you reckon?

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  5. I definitely do that too - for some reason I tend to write thought instead of though, and I'm really bad at picking up my own errors. Like you said, I think you see what you want to see!

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  6. Oh yes, I do that too! I was told to read my story from the last sentence back to the first. You won't make sense of the story, obviously, but any mistakes in sentences should jump out of the page! I have to admit I've never tried it! :-)

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  7. Me too, Karen! I often put a t on the end of though! (nearly did it just then too!)

    I'll give that a try, Amanda. It certainly sounds like something that would work.

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  8. My worst failing in this respect is not noticing that I've changed a character's name. (I think I see the person rather than their name) Usually this is just confusing to the reader, but when Sophie goes out for a date with Richard in one scene and wakes up with Dave in the next, it can create the wrong impression!

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  9. I've done that too, Patsy! But maybe Sophie is trying to tell you something!!

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  10. That the story won't be any good for People's Friend?

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  11. Good to know everyone does it! My problem is my mind works too fast for my fingers, so although I'm a sort of touch typist (the slow kind!), I often mirror type. Hence "sky" turns out "sdy" and "ask" ends up as "asd". It's O.K if spell check picks it up but otherwise I'm often writing nonesense. (O.K. O.K I know: maybe I am anyway.) Maybe this is one of the reasons I love to write longhand first - means I'm less productive than you straight to keyboard types, though.

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  12. Could be, Patsy!!

    I think writing longhand can slow you down, Lydia, but the quality of a longhand first draft is often better, so what you lose on the swings . . .

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  13. Just noticed I'd spelt butterfly wrong! I was going to sneak in and edit it, but I think I'll leave it as it is!

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