Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Colourful Edit


I'm working through the next 25 page section of my manuscript. Specifically, I'm working through a process I'll refer to as 'deep editing' before it is in good enough shape to be sent off to my writing instructor.

I've decided to use colored pens because when I first began this writing course, I was extremely worried about one of my personal editing foibles. That is, whenever I am editing for multiple reasons: i.e. vagueness, continuity, et cetera, I lose track of everything I am correcting except for one thing. And who wants to go through a manuscript multiple times, looking for different types of errors? If I do that I get distracted on the first read-through and start fixing multiple things. No, what I needed was a system.

I also remembered when a friend I had in grad school raved about the use of coloured Staedtler pens in heavy, intellectual pursuits. The idea is that the pens make the work a little more fun. And so, although I am a firm believer that you really don't need to shell out money to get the 'gear' (I'm working at you, Moleskin) to write, I found a pack of 12 fineliner for $7.

Then I made up a color coded editing system based on the feedback my instructor had given me on my reoccurring faults:

Purple = not important to describe
Green = convoluted sentences
Orange = vague descriptions (otherwise known as slow down and look around)
Pink = diction: tell it like you're telling a friend

...et cetera. The deep edit consists of corrected all these mistakes as well as copyediting.

The result, as pictured above, looks more than a little chaotic. But I'm actually finding it extremely useful. It is focused my editing and revision efforts in a way that has never happened to me before and I don't think I'm likely to change the process now, or ever! Plus, my friend was right: colours make it fun. :)