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Perks
09-09-2011, 08:27 PM
I had a revision due today. I don't know about you, but when I'm editing a novel-length work for, well, more than the first time, I have a tendency to start with focus and ruthlessness, only to get swept up into the story and what I meant to say, not necessarily what I actually wrote.

Ultimately, this ends with the first few chapters polished all shiny and the finesse fading as the manuscript goes along. Now, I'm a firm believer that for continuity, plot hole discovery, and overall flow, you have to go through it soup-to-nuts a time or two, anyway. But when you want to polish just the words, it can get frustrating.

So I tried something new. This particular manuscript has thirty-two chapters. So, I printed out the numbers 1-32. I cut them apart and folded them individually. Then I drew chapters out of a hat and edited in random order.

Can I tell you? Best editing pass ever. I saw each chapter on its own merit. Saw where my concentration had faltered and let down the storytelling.

I'm very pleased, so I though I'd share. Maybe it'll help somebody else.

Happy Friday!

amyashley
09-09-2011, 08:40 PM
AWESOME idea.

I like this even better than going through backwards.

Stealing. Totally.

Anne Lyle
09-09-2011, 08:43 PM
I have in the past suggested editing in reverse order, but I like your randomisation.

OTOH I'm often looking for continuity/flow errors - did I already mention this? Does this make sense in light of the previous chapter? - and reading from start to finish is the only way to do that. I think there's merit in both methods, depending on what you're trying to achieve.

Perks
09-09-2011, 08:54 PM
OTOH I'm often looking for continuity/flow errors - did I already mention this? Does this make sense in light of the previous chapter? - and reading from start to finish is the only way to do that.
Oh yeah, you have to do this first -- and probably more than once.

The random pass is for style and style-tangles only. Although, I should mention that I was intrigued to notice character traits and their continuity in a new light with this method.

CACTUSWENDY
09-09-2011, 09:02 PM
Really like this idea. Thanks for the share.

amyashley
09-09-2011, 09:06 PM
Perks, this would have worked really well for my last edit. I'd gone through once in order and compiled notes within the MS, highlighted, color coded, etc. I did it in Scrivener so it was split by chapter already.

It would really have helped to randomize, because it was a final pass. I think that might have given more oomph to the middle bits.

Chris P
09-09-2011, 09:09 PM
Cool idea! I'll have to try that (I will need to soon, hopefully!)

Perks
09-09-2011, 09:12 PM
It would really have helped to randomize, because it was a final pass. I think that might have given more oomph to the middle bits.
I have to say that, for the first time, this actually felt like a 'final pass'. The randomization really helped that.

I mean, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and I'm sure if this book gets picked up, there will be plenty of editorial work to be done. But until then, I feel like I gave my fresh focus to all the parts of the machine.

On a side note, play a game of Bejeweled or fold some laundry in between chapters -- anything that's not about words. It helps!

amyashley
09-09-2011, 09:40 PM
Urgh, there's always more edits later...at least until it's on the shelf.

I did well with this one doing one chapter at a time, I think. Mark was happy when I was done–didn't ask for any changes, so I guess I didn't poop out as much as I felt I did at times.

I'm definitely stealing your idea on my current book for that last swoop through. Brilliant!

Medievalist
09-09-2011, 10:34 PM
So I tried something new. This particular manuscript has thirty-two chapters. So, I printed out the numbers 1-32. I cut them apart and folded them individually. Then I drew chapters out of a hat and edited in random order.

I do this too, reading them out of order. Also editing in hardcopy, which sort of makes me see the words differently.

As in "re-vision."

Goldenleaves
09-09-2011, 10:38 PM
What a great idea! Cheers for sharing.

PrincessofPersia
09-09-2011, 11:44 PM
Yoink!

Great idea. Hopefully, I'll finish a first draft of this atrocity, so I can try it.

swvaughn
09-10-2011, 01:09 AM
OOOOOH.

My current project is giving me unadulterated HELL right now (I get halfway into a chapter and it's wrong, so I have to delete and start the chapter over... for the last 8 chapters so far. GRRRR.) -- and I think your editing method will be fantastic for making sure I haven't totally screwed everything when I'm done.

Thanks, Perks! :D

KTC
09-10-2011, 01:31 AM
That's a great idea. Something I have never tried. I always try to edit on paper...but non-sequentially would put an end to reading what you think is there as opposed to what actually is there. Gonna try it! Thanks.

Lady MacBeth
09-10-2011, 06:14 AM
Great idea.

amyashley
09-10-2011, 06:52 AM
I do this too, reading them out of order. Also editing in hardcopy, which sort of makes me see the words differently.

As in "re-vision."

Have you tried changing the font instead? I know a few writers who do that and it helps.

I amplify up to about 175% when editing at some points. I do hard copy usually too. Sometimes I cut the hardcopy up into pieces...don't know what that is all about, but it helps.

/derail

Still <3 this, Perks.

Hiroko
09-10-2011, 06:58 AM
Very clever of you! I know how it feels to get past the editing and just be reading the novel instead. :tongue Thanks for the tip.

AlishaS
09-10-2011, 07:57 AM
I think this is a great idea! Thanks for sharing, and yeah I agree that it would work better for maybe a last pass or near last pass. I also have considered printing it out, but ugh all that ink, all that paper... I should look into seeing how much it costs to print at a printer place lol

areteus
09-10-2011, 02:05 PM
I've always been one for reading backwards too. At a lecture the professor once put up a paragraph with mistakes on it and said that no one could find all the mistakes in it quickly, I found them all before she took the slide down by reading it backwards :) ) But with a line edit, anything that removes you from context is good. General advice also suggests a time space between writing and editing - where you put it away and don't even think about it for at least 2 days - in order to 'clear your own idealised memory' of the piece.

Random order chapters is a great idea :)

gothicangel
09-10-2011, 02:41 PM
Great thread. :)

My second draft seems to be about rewriting at the moment. But I will certainly try this technique in draft three.

Sometimes I do feel in the final editing stages that I read passively, and my brain isn't engaging actively enough in the editing process.

Eddyz Aquila
09-10-2011, 03:26 PM
Clever :D

This will definitely help, I'll try it out tonight see how it goes.