Editing on Paper

Editing is one of the most time-intensive aspects of writing a novel. Some folks prefer to do it by their computers. I am someone who must work with hard copy on serious edits. I've tried it a lot of ways, and this is the only way I consistently produce higher quality edits.

Simply put, I see the pages and the words differently. It is easy to tell when a paragraph is too long and needs broken up. I can see the flow better. I can tell when I've omitted things. I can see where I repeated myself. But, when your manuscript stack is almost as tall as a coke can, it can be very, very daunting approaching the pile of papers.

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This is what my desk often looks like when I'm in the middle of editing hard copy. Hard copy edits are a great way for me to see the text on a line-by-line level; it forces me to read the story in a different way than I normally do.

Some of my favorite tools when working with hard copy includes post-it flags, Avery NoteTabs (not shown), a can of soda (because sometimes tea just isn't enough to get me going…) and a variety of other office supplies used to keep my thoughts organized.

I will also include things like my story bibles and complete outlines in the fray, as these are very, very important tools for me when I'm editing my own writing.

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This image shows the carnage typical to a page of the manuscript.

My rough draft is not a completed piece of work. It is a foundation. This is where the magic happens for me. The more I have grown as a writer, the more time I spend on this phase. The more I think about how things piece together.

After I do the carnage, I edit it again as I copy the changes. A lot of the handwritten sentences are thoughts that I refine when I put them in the story. (Or try to, at any rate)

The materials I use include: Post-it notes, post-it tabs, post-it flags, my novel/series bible, a laser printer, and several dead trees worth of paper. (Fun fact: I end up drawing on the backs of the manuscript before they're used as kindling for my fireplace. One manuscript is enough kindling for a long time… and the ‘free' sketch paper is definitely a boon.)

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