Last week I began what I hope is the final edit on the third book in my trilogy, A Perfect Hatred. (To learn what the trilogy is about, click on the “Works in Progress” tab above.) For Books One and Two, I did all the editing on-screen, mainly because I wanted to save trees. This was even though I know I do my best editing of my own or anyone else’s work if I have a printed document and a red pen. Yeah, I came up in an age where a red pen didn’t damage your psyche; it got your attention.
For Book Three, I decided to take a different approach–print a chapter or two at a time and edit as I retype. I got the idea from a writer friend, Cliff Garstang, who had blogged about it in one of his regular “Tips for Writers” posts. Even though he recommended it and has done it to good results, he indicated doing it for a novel might be daunting. I scoffed inwardly, but I should heed my writing peers who’ve blazed the trail.
It is daunting, but it’s also working.
Somehow, I’m seeing plot holes better; I’m improving the dialogue; I’m tweaking the characters. I’d always considered this the weakest of the three books when I knew it needed to be the strongest: It’s wrapping up all the plot threads from the other two and bringing the story to the usual epic conclusion. (Just joking. A little.) I knew this was a draft that needed more “meat,” and though the usual result of a revision is cutting the fluff, I’ve found this retyping-as-revision approach has allowed me to add muscle to what was a lean frame. Since I’ve cut 150+ pages from the first two books, I think I have a little slack in the fact I’ve added fifteen pages thus far to this one.
And I’m trying to manage killing trees by reusing the second side of the paper–using 275 sheets of paper (just over half a ream) to print 550 pages. That’s double-spaced, by the way.
On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and generated 100,000+ words–or regenerated in this instance. It’s hard on the buttocks, it’s hard on the wrists and fingers, and it’s a strain on the eyes.
But I’ll end up with something better when it’s all done, something that will be more than ready to submit to agents. That’s the prize to keep the weary eyes on.
How do you edit/revise? Do you retype or print out and use a pen of any color?