Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Day in the Life: Chapter Editing

This is me:

I remember when I’d say something like I’m revising/editing my manuscript today. This is the easy part. Cuz, you know, it’s like reading your favorite book over and over again. Am I right?

So I’d read. I’d reword a few sentences. Decide to delete or add in a haphazard fashion…

God. I really miss those days.

If this is a day in your revising life, I envy you.

I’ve grown up since then. Here’s my list of open internet/doc tabs:

#1 and the most important . . . Pandora Radio. Who’s with me?

#2 This is a must. Do Not, under any circumstances, trust Microsoft Word to give you verb replacement options. It’s too basic.

#3 Savvy Authors. Why? Because they have an autocritter. If you aren’t a member, try this: Auto Crit Editing Wizard. This autocritter makes me its bitch. It tells me what words I’m over-using as well as pinning down words that lead to passive voice or “delay of subject”. And most importantly, you’re telling words such as feel, felt, saw, see, look, hear, heard… 95% of the time you’ll find it in a telling situation.

#4 could be any randomly searched topic necessary for any given subject.

So that’s my Internet. Then I have my TWO Word docs open. That’s right. TWO.

#5 is my original manuscript

#6 is my edit doc. On this edit doc I perform all the totally effed up changes, highlights, notes, whatever… it all happens there. That way, if I make a big change and change my mind, I have the original stuff on the other doc.

I paste in a chapter at a time.

(#7 If you have beta notes, you’d have that doc open too.)

My Headers and Footers look like this:


Why? Because I start checking my chapter for setting details. I go through each part of the chapter and check for at least 4 of the 5 senses. You can’t always have taste… I highlight by color. Yes, I’m that big of a dork. If I scan thru the chapter and see a good variation of 4 colors, I’m golden.

One thing down.

Next, scene and sequel. For this I use the comment boxes.


If you don’t know about scene and sequel, I posted about them ALL monthSmile All the steps are laid out.

If I can’t find a step, I fix/add/adjust/work miracles/search for weapons.

Second task done, and crazily enough, those are the easy parts.

Next comes the autocritter. Once I get my report up, I use the Find function and highlight all the overused words. AND, there’s a lot.


I almost fell out of my chair on this report for an unedited chapter. In reality, this is what I did:

I might have petted the screen. Just a little. With a single fingertip.

Trust me when I say, if you start using this feature—from whatever source—you’ll find your active sentence structure will come naturally.

This is also the time when some of those highlighted words need a good verb replacement, hence,

Warning: You will be cross-eyed and grumpy upon completion of chapter. In case of humorless groans and sneers of hatred, use your ever-present search tab to open Twitter. Use 140 characters to curse. Breathe. Sag in chair.

Open original manuscript and paste in your fresh new chapter over old crap version and yell things at computer monitor (I beat you, you bastard!! Like that.).

Start over. *shoulders tense* Wail. NOOOOOO!

And THAT, my good friends, are my ridiculously organized and painful steps to editing a chapter. Once you send off finished chapters to beta’s, you can use them for plot holes, etc… Those, I’m afraid, just aren’t easy enough to find unless you step away from the doc for a few solid months. Going back with a fresh perspective is the only cure for that. Why do this part first? It’ll give your beta’s a smoother read and they can focus more on your plot situation rather than wince over your sentence structure.

1 comment:

  1. wow, that sounds like a lot of work! I'm afraid I still do things the old fashioned way, by reading, re-reading, reading aloud, and having others read. I kinda like the idea of the auto crit editing wizard but I'm a little afraid to try it - lol.


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