Friday, April 5, 2013

Edits 'R' Us

Welcome to Day Five of the A to Z Challenge, otherwise known as "The First—But Not Last—Day M.J. Didn't Plan Anything Ahead Of Time."

Actually, maybe we shouldn't call it that. Seems wordy.

Anyway...I think I've found a workable topic. I hope it's not too boring.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (thank you for that, by the way), you'll know that I spent the month of March languishing in the land of the endless edits. By some miracle, I actually stayed on task (well, mostly) and finished all my edits by the end of the month. With entire hours to spare, even.

So today I thought I would share with you my editing process.

First, I printed up a nice, clean copy of my manuscript. I started off working on the computer, but I kept getting distracted by solitaire and various forms of social media, so I unplugged for a while and went old school. It was me, a blue highlighter and a red pen. I sat on my couch—or at the break table at The Store—and worked my way through each and every page, reading everything aloud (which my co-workers loved more than life itself) and being very, very picky. I highlighted each and every problem I came across and then wrote a little red note on how I wanted to fix it. Two red pens and three blue highlighters later (yes, seriously), my nice, clean manuscript looked like this:


And actually, that's one of the cleaner pages. Probably why I took a picture of that one.

The next step brought me back to the computer. I require noise when I work. I can't do quiet, so I need something playing in the background. Most of the time that something doesn't matter, but this round of edits was different for some reason. I tried music. It didn't work out because I was so distracted with which song was currently playing and which one I wanted to hear next that my productivity was laughable at best. So I put the iPod away and put season two of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in the DVD player instead. That worked.

(The Man, by the way, finds this insane. He has no idea how I can work under these noisy conditions, how I can concentrate on anything when the television is on, and honestly, I have no idea how I can work under such noisy conditions either, but as I have a freshly edited manuscript, I'm going to keep doing it.)

So I got to work implementing all my desired changes. Many of these edits weren't overly time consuming. It was "add a comma here", "delete dialogue tag here" and "hey, how 'bout you fix that verb tense, you dumbass" kind of stuff, but there were a few things that required more effort. Those edits were placed on a "Run Off" list that I tackled during the last two weeks of the month. (By that time, I was on season five of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.)

I finished Easter Sunday, and by Easter Sunday night, I still considered myself done (which is a real record for me). And I felt good about them—or as good as I ever feel about things that are not chocolate.

It was an Easter miracle.

Of course, yesterday, I looked at the manuscript for the first time only to find two (minor) typos staring back at me.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall for a while.

How do you tackle edits?

40 comments:

  1. Good work! :) My system for editing and revising continues to evolve and depends on if it's a story or a novel etc. I've found that I do more story edits first, then technical things, like commas and typos etc, later on. I also usually need quiet but who knows, that might change, too. :)

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    1. Mine keeps changing, too. The next time I do a series of edits, who knows what I'll end up having to do to make it work.

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  2. That's what I do - print a copy. It's harder to see mistakes on a computer screen. I usually print out my manuscript several times.
    You're not insane. I always have music playing and the TV on. (Although I do mute the TV - that would be insane.)

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    1. The only time I have both music playing and the TV on is when the Red Sox are playing, but I don't feel like listening to the commentary. Otherwise it's one or the other.

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  3. Gotta have paper and red pens! Oh, and some discipline...uh, still working on that!

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    1. Yep. Discipline's always the hard part for me, too.

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  4. Reading out loud is one of the most helpful things, I've found. The other one is leaving it alone for a couple of weeks and then coming back because then it looks new again and you can see all the crap you didn't before.

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    1. I did both those things with this round of edits. Sticking a MS in a drawer for a couple of weeks will do wonders for editing.

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  5. Nooooo. Edits - the enemy of writers!

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  6. I usually just read it outloud to myself and then send it to betas. I'm a lazy editor, I let them pick out things and then fix them XD

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    1. I'm so glad to hear so many people read aloud to themselves. Now I can tell my co-workers that it's a writer thing and not a "M.J.'s crazy" thing.

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  7. I have the same process, only my crit partners and I read each others stuff out loud. We of course love to hear my stuff aloud as it is erotica.

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    1. It's interesting to hear your work read to you. A group of my students did that for me one afternoon. Very, very cool.

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  8. For things like grammar and spellings I trust my beta's more than myself (a coma has a purpose, it is not a decoration - or so my lecturer in college told me). I wait till a draft is finished, then go through it on screen, I know where you are coming from with the distractions, so I try to hide the Dongle (internet key) on myself so I can't log on, (it doesn't work as I always find the bugger).

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    1. I really need to delete solitaire and minesweeper and free cell from my computer. I imagine I'd get a lot more work done then.

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  9. You have my admiration. I cannot do anything that requires focus if I have the TV on. It's just pointless. I can deal with music often but not TV.

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    1. My significant other agrees with you.

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  10. There is nothing wrong with the old school editing process, as I think it is definitely the best. It is the method I use, though I do feel bad for using so much paper. I know just how you feel when you still see errors after having spent ages editing it. Best of luck with the rest of the A-Z challenge.

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    1. I feel bad about the paper thing, too. I have so many drafts of this WIP all over the house. Sorry, Mother Nature.

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  11. You want to do mine for me? :P

    I like to have a printed copy. I see the mistakes better that way, though I have no understanding of why.

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    1. I think it's changing the format in which you're viewing a manuscript that helps you see mistakes better. At least that's my theory, and I'm sticking with it.

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  12. Someone else mentioned printing off a copy of the ms for edits.

    I think I just might have to do that as it will get me away from the computer and my emial...lol

    Great idea!

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    1. Getting away from the computer and one's email is quite often key.

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  13. It's more like they tackle me.

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    1. It certainly feels that way, doesn't it?

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  14. Buffy makes all things possible.

    I need silence to work myself. I hate doing edits, but I sit in front of the computer, and go one line at a time. Tedious but it needs to be done.

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    1. Buffy does make all things possible.

      And yeah, edits are tedious but important.

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  15. I'm terrible at editing but I think I may go back to old school style myself. Like you said - there's distractions. Once I turned on the Apple Speak to read my manuscript aloud. Some scenes just read so awkward in a robotic voice (*cough* sex scenes *cough*)

    Maybe with Sarah Mine I'll print it off. I have to fix the beginning. Ugh.

    Riann Colton

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    1. Hahaha...I want to try that Apple Speak thing with my manuscript. That would be hilarious!!

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  16. I print out a copy like this too. I had to laugh about your typos as I know the exact same thing would have happened to me. Editing is a nightmare!

    Just the mention of Buffy makes me love this post. :D

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    1. I know I'll never have a 100% error free manuscript, but I felt like the universe was just mocking me.

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  17. I like to print out a draft and attack it with red too. Music is a no for me as well. TV yes, but only certain shows. I can't put on anime, Dr. Who or shows like that. They distract me too much, but some mindless reality TV is perfect.

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    1. I don't think I could do mindless reality TV. Well, depending on what it us, I guess. I'd probably be mad by all the rampant stupidity.

      With Buffy (or any other Joss show), I always know what I'm getting.

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  18. Terrible how those typos slip through.

    I hear editing from the printed page is the way to go. I'm not to that point yet, though.

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  19. I like that old school approach. I might try that next time! :)

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  20. I don't print anything out, but other than that it's quite similar to me. I can't work without noise either. The louder, the better.

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  21. I like to print it out too, it seems like I catch things I don't online. :)

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  22. I print it out and do the online....seems like Edit is a popular E topic. Mine as well. THanks for this post, I have been a bit stalled lately and this helped!Z~

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  23. Seems like a pretty good system.

    Just noticed your little facebook icon. LIKED THAT!

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