My last post began discussing the importance, as far as I am concerned, of printing out a manuscript before editing. I still hold this to be the case and I wanted to bring out a few more ways this might be beneficial in the editing process.
During the last few weeks I have been working on a few short story edits and I am just loving the fact that my first run-through feels as if I am experiencing the story as I read through it. It is magical. Just as reading a story should be. Now, of course, I am viewing this with my editor’s glasses, but I believe a story must be read through, no matter if it is your own or someone else’s manuscript, with fresh eyes. Do we catch little errors now and again? Of course. Just take a pencil and quickly mark it and move on. Do not spend time researching and finding the “fix” at that point. Just read.
My friends, my first love is reading. I am sure that many of you will say the same thing. We started off, as children, reading long before we were writing stories (or at least most of us were). So we cannot skip the part of reading the story.
So, here are a few more things you can do with your printed manuscript (MS) that will add value to your editing process.
- Staple each chapter together. This will help you gauge the length of each chapter. It will also help if you need to rearrange chapters in the MS that you find out of place.
- This one is optional, but you can make an outline. Once you lay all of the chapters out, “title” each chapter (In this copy only – you need not title your chapters in the final cut). Write them in order that you have them. This step might help you determine your plot points, and holes you might have, and your resolutions to problems. As an editor this might be extremely helpful. As an author, this step might help you BEFORE sending it to the editor. You might be able to find pesky issues.
- On the back page of each chapter, list the characters that are introduced as well as the settings. This is a good idea since you might find you have not “introduced” the character before you have them in a scene. This could be an issue. Can you imagine if, in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, Elizabeth remarks on Darcy’s proud look before he is even introduced? Hmm…Not so much.
- Use highlighters for everything! I mentioned this in the first post, but I want to explore this notion further. Make sure you have at least 5-7 different colors of highlighters. Go through one chapter at a time and mark, one color for each category, dialogue, description, exposition, action, info dumping/backstory, and possibly monologue. You will see strengths and weaknesses. You will recognize, almost immediately, what sections need to be re-worked.
- Take LOTS of notes! If you do this long-hand, you won’t have to be tied to your computer. But also, as I said earlier, you will get a “feel” for reading it differently.
Let your notations, colors, changes, highlights, questions, and “issues” wait until you have completely gone through your entire MS. Once you feel comfortable, then open up your document and make the necessary changes on your computer.
Remember, all of the suggestions made here are just that – SUGGESTIONS. If you have a style that works for you, that is wonderful. Perhaps you can share it! I would LOVE to know what works for you!
Until next time,