Scapple Sunday – Learning to Love Editing

Woman holding a poisonous bottle marked Love.

Scapple is to work and shape roughly, so while I use it for my schedule, I’m also trying to figure out what works for my own writing (like every other writer out there, haha!). It took a while to understand how I plot, and I’m still finding great ideas and news ways to add to that (highly recommended Story Genius by Lisa Cron and Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawker.) 

Schedule wise, I still want to commit to what I have – and I MUST fix my sleep times (anything after 12:30 and I sleep through my alarms at 5:30 and 5:35, which kills the hour and a half during the morning that I can check up on my online family, edit, plot, or write.

The good news is that I’m enjoying my editing! The bad news, I’m not editing my recent MS.

I say this as someone who has eyed editing as something to be dreaded and avoided like the plague, but I think I’ve finally found my way to edit, and that’s going to be what I share today. Hopefully this can help you out (either by “nah, not for me” or “woot this works!”)

Original Method: I would either print and deface with pen, or I would try to edit on the computer. The problem with both is that I didn’t find all the mistakes (not even 99%) and when rereading something written a year ago, I cringe at the typos, grammar mistakes, and other basic problems. 

I needed to find something better.

New Method: text to voice, print to deface paper with pen/highlights, enter changes into the computer, and do it all over again.

I bought Voice Dream (not affiliated, FYI. I’m just a happy customer). The simple set up allows me to download documents from my Google Drive, and there’s not much of a learning curve. Play, pause, go back, etc. A bonus of using text to voice is that I can see how many minutes a chapter is (Ch. 4 is 2:35 and Ch. 3 is 32:24… Houston, we have a small problem.)

Okay, so the chapters are downloaded, the papers have been printed, it’s time to get down with pen and highlights. I tend to use yellow, green, blue, red, and orange, but Japan stationary has many highlighter colors and these will probably change in the future. Implements ready, I usually settle down for at least an hour, if not more. So far it’s been at a cafe, but I’m sure I’ll start doing it at home too (when the kitchen table stays clean for more than a day). 

I grab my cup of coffee (you’re welcome to your poison of choice), and then it’s time to plug myself into my words.

Unhappy coffee

A soft Australian voice (you can choose what’s most comfortable to you) begins to speak, and I start listening. 

Red highlights = grammar/typos. Marked for note and then quickly ignored. 

Orange highlights = something needs to change. This could be too few words, too many words, wrong words for the character, etc. Voice Dream also allows me to take notes in the app; very useful when I’m on the train, or when I can’t spread out my papers.  

Blue highlights = checks. Sometimes it’s a name I haven’t seen for a while, at other times it’s wondering if a person knows a piece of information, or trying to figure out where an object came from. This would also be the best time for me to make sure my world bible is near me.

Green highlights = the things I liked. Recently it was an insult which I thought was well written, tomorrow I may find a perfectly placed word to illuminate a person’s way of being. Usually something that makes me laugh, groan, or smile. 

Yellow highlights = not enough. One of my writing weaknesses is narration (I suffer from talking heads), so there are yellow sections where it’s screaming “add some background dammit!” 

There’s also an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed with text to voice; it’s so much easier for me to catch similar phrasing! Not sure why, but I’m happy I’m hearing it!

After all this, type everything back up, trash the old text to voice copies, download the new ones, print the papers, and get ready to do it two-three more times! I might try in the future to go direct from app to computer – a little less paper waste on one hand, but on the other hand, I know that when I edit only on the computer, I tend to miss things. 

How do you edit your writing? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?

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