Has anybody run into back-masking lately? Those moments during song-fade outs where the sound engineer splices in a voice, backwards, ostensibly containing a message.
They date from the halcyon days of rock music when such things were literally done by reversing tapes, though most of them weren’t messages at all – they said ‘werp, weeb, gleep’ whichever way round you played them. And those that were intelligible didn’t say anything useful. I mean, who’s this ‘Paul’ and why should we care that he’s dead?
Still, it’s something writers can learn from. One of the biggest hurdles when proofing for literals –typographical errors – is that meaning overwhelms our ability to see any mistakes in the words themselves.
The answer is to proof the words backwards. Literally. Read the piece, word by word, one at a time, in reverse. Kills the meaning straight off – and with it, gives you a fresh eye for all those niggly typos, misplaced spaces, wrong sorts of dashes, inconsistent quote marks and everything else that leaks past auto-correct. And trust me, auto-correct is very leaky when it comes to these things. But readers are not, when spotting them.
Do you reverse-proof?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013