Fresh Eyes: What you catch the second time

I see a problem in your manuscript.
I see a problem in your manuscript.

Fresh eyes are what you have when you read something the first time. Not something you’ve written, but something else. When you write, you have to wait a while to regain fresh eyes for your own piece – and even then it won’t be 100%.

(We had some other editing-type suggestions here

When you take some time off, you allow your personal writing foibles to become apparent to you again. If you read your stuff right away, you start to not see what you’re habitually doing wrong. Read the same paragraph five times in a row and nothing seems wrong, even though it may not even make sense. Put two weeks in between you and that draft, and you’ll wonder if you were drunk when you wrote it.

We assume you were NOT drunk when you wrote it.
We assume you were NOT drunk when you wrote it.

Fresh eyes.

See rhythms and patterns that readers would see – and potentially fine annoying.

Recently my friend wrote an intriguing chapter to his amazingly great new story, and it had a few areas for improvement. I love the scene, but I read it as a person who didn’t write it. I had fresh eyes.

“Check with Betty on the gun and get with the FBI about the knife,” I instructed Squidword.


“Hold on.”


While I waited, I called up my GPS coordinates and sent them to Squidword as well.


“Patrick, yeah, Betty said Sandy has guns like that. She’s a complete mess.”

Check that again:

Wait, what did that say?
Wait, what did that say?

“Patrick, yeah, Betty said Sandy has guns like that. She’s a complete mess.”

This is nitpicky, but you have two she’s here. Betty and Sandy. Everybody will quickly realize the one who Squidword means is a mess is Betty, but it takes a second and it un-immerses the reader from your story for that second. Technically, the last female mentioned (Sandy) is the next “she” referred to.

He’ll see it now, when he didn’t before. Then he’ll be stuck with how to fix it because we get tripped up that way as writers. Help him out.

We writers are a silly bunch!
We writers are a silly bunch!

There are several solutions. When he sees one, he’ll be able to think up several of his own that he likes better.

“God, Patrick, Betty is a complete mess. But she said Sandy has guns like that.”


“Patrick, yeah, she said Sandy has guns like that. She’s becoming a complete mess, too.”

In this case, she is she both times, so readers understand she as the same person – but it still may trip up a few.

It won’t be obvious to you when you read it. You knew what you meant. You won’t see the confusion. It’s not really that confusing.

No confusion here.
No confusion here.

It might not bother some readers.

But there is a smoothness that comes from a well edited piece, and you want that smoothness. A reader may not be able to articulate it, but they see it, and if there are missed opportunities to be smoother in a story, they come away feeling, “It was good but…”

Why do that?

What you can do here is – just for this section – is name each one every time, all names and no she’s, and then rewrite it using a few she’s when it’s obvious who the she refers to. You can also just have the characters say a few extra words to clarify things.

The point is, you miss things because you wrote it. Things readers would see, that you can’t. And we all do it. Take that time off, whether it’s a day or a week or a month, and approach your writing as though you’d never seen it before and have no idea what’s going on.

WHAT did I mean by THAT?
WHAT did I mean by THAT?

Give yourself the benefit of fresh eyes. Your writing will improve as a result, and when you show it to someone else, they can focus on what you want them focused on: the story.


By carrying that computer around, he looks like he just might know something, doesn't he?
By carrying that computer around, he looks like he just might know something, doesn’t he?

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Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

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