My editing methods

Well, my fellow writers, we’re a good ways into December now. And I know that, for many of you, it’s time to be working on revisions to your NaNoWriMo novels.

I’ll admit, I’m not exactly there yet. The first draft I worked on for this year’s NaNoWriMo isn’t finished.

But, I am working on revising a couple of other projects. And today, I wanted to talk to you a bit about what that looks like.

You see, I believe that different stages in your editing process require different mediums. For me, that primarily means splitting my time between a computer screen, a printed copy of my MS, and a tablet. I find that each of those mediums generally encourages a different type of editing, helping me to catch and fix more than I would if I only utilized one option.

On the computer screen

My laptop, admittedly, is where I do most of my work. Regardless of how I edit, I always have to come back to the computer to actually make the edits.

But, in general, I find reading through an MS on a computer screen is useful during the (as I like to call it) Massive Rewrite Stage. This is usually the first revision, or first couple of revisions, after my first draft.

While I could make rewrites on paper, using a computer screen just makes everything so much easier. I write in Scrivener, so I can easily split my screen between two documents. On one side, I’ll have the old scene, so I can refer back to it. On the other side, I’ll have the new scene.

Now, I know many people wouldn’t want to refer back to their old scene too much during rewrites, and I definitely agree with that. But I find it useful to have it open, because the scene will usually contain, at the very least, the bare bones of what I want to include. It gives me something to build off of.

Using a printed copy

After the first two revisions, or so, my eyes get too used to the computer screen. I start missing things, which will only lead to more revisions in the long run. This is when it helps to make my first medium switch.

I do still come across rewrites at this point, but most of the changes I make are smaller than the ones I’d make during the Massive Rewrite Stage. They’re not big scene rewrites anymore; they’re just sentence rewrites or, at the most, paragraph rewrites.

I usually do these ones in pencil, largely so that I can still change my mind in the middle of something. Pen just makes things too messy in that regard; if I were to use a pen, I’d end up with a page full of scribbles, making it difficult to figure out what I was trying to tell myself to do.

When I’m finished this read-through, I take everything back to my computer, where I’ll make my edits. Then, depending on how I’m feeling about the MS, I’ll either do another round of computer edits or skip on down to the next stage.

Reading through everything on a tablet

Finally, during (what I hope will be) my last revision stage, I’ll read through my MS on a tablet. At this point, most of my edits will have been made and I’ll be reading through it from the point of view of a reader.

That’s why I like the tablet format–it’s as though I’m reading an ebook, rather than my own manuscript. I’ll still catch line edits, which I record in a notebook and take care of later, but I’ll mostly be watching to make sure everything flows and makes sense.

That’s where the “I hope this will be my last revision” part comes in. Because if I suddenly find that something doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t flow, then I need to go back to my computer and fix it. And from there, I’d need to reassess to decide which method will be best. If I feel that I’ve fixed everything well enough, I’ll give it another read-through on the tablet. If not, then I’ll do another computer or print-off edit.

So, those are the mediums I like to use when editing, and why I like to use them. How about you? Do you have a preferred editing medium, or do you jump around like I do?

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