The Case for Paper

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to the topic of reading – those who read on digital devices and those who read hard copy books only. Yes, I know that there are going to be MANY who will have their own ideas, but there is a point I would like to make here. 

There are many of us who remember a day when there were no digital devices. There were no Kindles, no iPads, no Nooks, no smart phones and not even computers. Can you even imagine? But we survived! We read actual books. And if we we going to write a book, we would either write it out in longhand or type with a typewriter. And then came the word processor. Remember that? Whew, did my fingers thank me that day!

So, why am I making a case for paper when we have come so far?

I have, in the last several months, started delving into the area of editing. And I am one of those people who has to watch every video, take every class, ask every person advice about editing. And one of the videos that I have watched recently about editing your own writing has completely changed the way I edit. And to be frank, it makes me, I believe, a better editor.

Here it is:

I edit using a printed copy of a manuscript. Yup. I am going old-school. Sure I can edit in Microsoft Word, and I can edit in Google docs, but I prefer to print the whole thing out and put a rubber band around the whole thing and toss it in my tote.

So why this fascination with a thick, heavy manuscript? Well, I believe there are several reasons why.

  1. You can look at it and turn pages as if you were reading an actual book.
  2. There is a lot of room on the opposite side of the page to make notes.
  3. Your eye picks up things on a piece of paper that it might not on the computer screen.
  4. You don’t have to rely on a battery in your laptop. It can be taken anywhere.

So, What is the process? I guess I took some of the ideas and maybe varied them to suit what I wanted to accomplish. But there are some basic “tools” you will need.Pencils

  • Sticky notes (variety of colors, if possible)
  • Colored pencils
  • Highlighters – at least 3 different colors
  • Red pen (of course)
  • Variety of other colored pens, if you want


Okay, so now that you have everything together, what next? Remember that these are merely suggestions that I took from someone else and molded them to work for me.

  • Print out the MS in a little larger font AND a “different” font that what you have been using on the computer.
  • Read through the entire MS without making any marks (as an author, you can skip this part since you already know the story).
  • Next run-through, take your highlighters and assign one color for each character’s POV. You can either highlight the actual printed words or just draw a line next to the sections to keep it a little “cleaner.”
  • Next run-through, make notes on areas that are out of place, don’t make sense, or need some attention. As an author, you will be able to make some notes using the stickies or on the left (opposite) sides. Use colors that will remind you of what you are thinking. As an editor, you can make suggestions on the stickies, or you can choose to return to it later.
  • At this point, I think the MS should be returned to the author and allow him/her to make any revisions. But, depending on what kind of editing you are doing, you might need to go to the next point.
  • This run-through will basically be line editing. Anything relating to grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage should be marked at this point. You may have been tempted to do this first, but if you have gotten a revised MS after the content edit, the chances are many of those original problems have been addressed.

So, there you have it. These are basic steps, but it will give you a start. It might help, as it does with me sometimes, to read it aloud. You can test the flow and dialogue. Become the reader. You might find things that you didn’t necessarily see before.

I plan on continuing this subject in my next post. I hope you find some of these ideas helpful.

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