Manuscript in a box: Print It Out For A Fresh Perspective

Papers in a box 2

My book is in a box. At least the draft of the manuscript is. I printed off the scenes from my draft of New Duet so I can manually organize and edit them. Yes, as much as I love editing on the computer and all the organizational wonders available with various software programs, nothing beats printing out a few hundred pages and eyeballing every word. I keep the pages in a box when I am not working on it because all scrap paper is used by my granddaughters for art work. These pages needed protecting from the crayons and scissor brigade for the moment.

Reorganizing scenes

I stapled each scene and numbered them. Because I wrote in scenes rather than chapters, I can move scenes around as I read through and edit. The ideas didn’t always flow chronologically in draft form. And even though I organized them in my Scrivener program, I found a few in the wrong place. Now I can go back and correct that. When I am done editing and organizing, I’ll create a new file in chapter format.

Duplicate names

How has this helped? Fresh eyes for sure. I apparently like the names Marcia and Claire. I gave one flat character and a reference to a deceased child as Marcia. And an elderly woman, a store clerk and a pianist were all named Claire. I also gave a few characters too similar names. Names that sound the same can confuse readers. So, I had to think fast to rename them. Flat characters for those who don’t know the term are the background characters. The waiter, the guy walking in the park. A reference to someone in the past who no one ever sees. Flat characters fill in the scene but have no emotional connection with the story.

Marcia art-2

Grammar booboos and other mistakes

I’ve also found awkward sentences, weird punctuation. You know those backward quotation marks and extra spaces. I’ve discovered Dan’s scene had a POV from Isabella. I was surprised to find repetitive information throughout a few scenes. Repetitive information is something the characters have revealed previously that doesn’t need to be rehashed in every scene. I either deleted the information or shortened it to a word or two to keep the information in the readers mind.

A few places needed serious rewording, and some spots needed more emotional tension or a deeper POV. The new perspective of words on paper forced my brain to take a closer look. When these corrections are placed in my PC document, I will probably find other places to tweak.

The next step

I am almost through the manual edits. Then once I’ve copy pasted and reformatted my story into the new chapter file I’ll place all my manual edits in the document. I’ll run my spelling and grammar check and try to make the copy as clean as possible. Once I am happy with those changes I’ll need to find uninterrupted time to read it out loud. Preferably with my hubby. Because together we will probably find even more discrepancies. Once that is done, I’ll be ready to contact an editor and submit my proposal to publishers. (That part always makes me nervous.)

What things do you do in the editing process to give you a fresh perspective on your WIP? Please share them with me in the comment section. I’d love to hear about it.

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