Thursday, July 19, 2012

Zette's Take: Writing Experiment: Editing

For those who have read this blog for a while, you might remember that I sometimes talk about writing experiments, where I try something different with the way I normally would write or edit. Some of these experiments have helped, others not so much so. The one I found that really didn't work was limiting the writing on a single story to 500 words a day and focusing on those words. You'd think that would have worked better, right? Not for me. The book dragged, both in the writing and the tale. I still haven't been able to edit it because it is so boring -- page after page of detailed work that bogged the story down.
So that one was not for me. I write fast first drafts and then I work on what they need.

I've also adapted ideas from various books I've read. I've tried new genres (Westerns are not for me), and looked at new ways to create characters.

However, an odd discussion in the Forward Motion chat room led to an interesting experiment that has really worked well for me. Someone spoke about editing one line at a time, and the trouble of focusing on that single line. I didn't go that far, but I have found a way to edit one paragraph at a time, and it has made a huge difference in what I see.

First is setting up the work so you only see the single paragraph and nothing else around it. I do this by using the find/replace in Word and applying these codes:

Find: ^p

Replace: ^p^m

This places a page return at the end of each paragraph. You now have thousands of pages (for a novel) with each paragraph on it's own page. Don't use the Word trick where you hide the extra white space between pages. Leave those paragraphs completely alone on the page. Use the page down controls of your computer or the program.

(I am sure Open Office has the same sort of codes, but I'm not sure if they are exactly the same. If anyone knows if this words, can you please post?)

The first thing I began noticing was typos I had missed even in two prior edits. Weak description became apparent, as did odd word combinations. Sometimes I had to look at the next paragraph to make certain what I wrote worked with it, but for the most part, this editing went very smoothly. I've used it for two works so far, and I plan to keep doing so in the future.

When you are done, simply reverse the find/replace:

Find: ^p^m

Replace ^p

You may have to make certain of some Chapter starts at the top of new pages, but otherwise it works very well. It's also remarkably fast.

Try it out and have fun!

Welcome to Muse....

Stranded when his car breaks down, Killian Dain Fox overhears a cop and a gas station clerk discussing murder and the exchange of money. Although he tries to believe he misheard the conversation, by the time KD meets a few more of the locals, he's convinced the entire small town is inhabited by a gang of murderers.

Between the massive storms that threaten to flood the town, a would-be killer on the loose, and his growing attraction to the town's pretty mayor, Killian Dain Fox is on a roller-coaster of a ride. And when someone tries to kill him, he just hopes he can get out alive.

(Book contains mild sex scene.)


Catana/Sylvie Mac said...

I do something that's visually similar, but in a very different way. I use Scrivener, and when I'm editing, I go into Compose mode, which blanks out everything but the writing page. Once I reach the bottom of the screen (with no scrolling), I focus only on the bottom two or three lines. I scroll down only that far, so that I never see any more of the text than those few lines.

I also switch from Arial (sans serif) to Times Roman (serif) and enlarge the text 175%.

Between those two techniques, I find that punctuation errors and sloppy word usage show up as if they're spotlighted.

Zette said...

Sounds as though you've found something that works as well. I write first drafts on Scrivener, but I'd rather edit on Word, where I feel more confortable with the tools available.