Yesterday, my roommates and I woke up to a 58-degree house. It was about 17 degrees outside (#coloradowinter #brrrrrr). The thermostat was set at 75, so the furnace clearly wasn't working right. But none of us could figure out why.
When we finally got hold of our landlady, she came over to investigate. It took over an hour, a phone call to someone who knew more about furnaces than we did, and some tinkering, but she finally discovered the problem. To make a long story short, one of the sensors in the furnace had gotten dirty and was causing the furnace to shut off unnecessarily. A little sandpaper was all it took to get the gunk off and start the furnace up again.
In other words, it was a tiny thing we didn't even know about that was causing all the trouble.
That often happens in writing. As authors, we know what we're trying to say when we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. The problem is that that knowledge can trip us up when we review our work. It sometimes causes us to see what we intended to write rather than what we've actually written. Thus, we fail to notice places where we've left out key information, gotten details wrong, not made sense, or made other mistakes--including big ones.
For example, my oldest sister ("K") and I were both trying to write plays when she was about eleven and I was about sixteen. She asked me to read one of the first scenes from her play, in which two knights got into a fight. At the end of the duel, the losing knight got down on his knees.
What I'm pretty sure "K" meant to have him say: "Please spare me."
What she'd actually written: "Please spear me."
"K" had no idea she'd messed up until I started laughing and pointed it out to her. Thankfully, she was a good sport about it.
Rarely does a typo change the meaning of a sentence to the exact opposite of what the author intended! But this incident shows why it's so important to get at least one other set of eyes on your work before you send it out to the world. Even if circumstances prevent you from working with a professional editor, there are other ways you can get feedback on your work. We'll talk about those later this week.
P.S. I'd love to create some video training for you guys that goes into more depth than what I can put in these posts. But for that, I need to know what kind of help you need. Use the "Contact Me" link at the top of this page and tell me (a) the number-one thing that's holding you back from writing your current book and (b) how fast you want to be able to finish that book.