06-13-2007, 07:44 PM
Greetings Fellow Writers,

I am now faced with the task of satisfying several editors for one book. This revision has been a doozy, considering this is my 8th revision and I have two editors interested in buying - ONLY if I address their issues.

So here's the two tips that can be a savior in your revision efforts. If you don't know already - here goes!

There is a "highlight" feature in Microsoft word. You can highlight text in different colors. This allows you to mark scenes that you feel are important, issues you have to go back to, etc. (I've been moving HUGE chunks of text back and forth, and this helps me keep track). The feature should be in the upper right hand corner of your toolbar. You'll see a box with a bunch of colors available (please go to help if you don't find it, I'm not good at describing and yes I'm a writer). Okay, next!

Please, please, please write an outline of your novel - even if you're through with it...even if it's the first tacky draft. I urge you to do so because I'm now stuck with the task of scrolling through a 200 page 'script, trying to find what happens where etc. Your outline doesn't have to be in great detail. Just jot down the order in which MAJOR Things happen. Hope this helps someone out there in cyberspace. Happy writing to all!!! :Hug2:

06-13-2007, 09:36 PM
Shouldn't that be "here are" two tips.

06-13-2007, 09:58 PM
Great tips Star. Thank you for posting them.

06-13-2007, 10:04 PM
When I have to find things in a manuscript I use the "find" tool in MS Word. It requires that you remember exactly what you typed at certain points, but if you can do this it's amazing an fast.

But I definitely agree with the making an outline, even if it's done post writing. It'll ease finding things and also helps to figure out if you have everything as tight as it could be.

06-13-2007, 10:09 PM
Hey Star! The highlighting function is great, isn't it? I use it with different colors, so I can look back for the correct spelling of a character's name or town.

As for the outline--good idea, but you could also just jot down notes as you go. (I have trouble with outlines.)

Another good feature of Word is the memo feature.

06-13-2007, 10:12 PM
stormie: I can't do full oulines either...it's more like "Chap 1: MC gets shot. Chap 2: hospital" haha

and what's the memo feature? It sounds useful.

06-13-2007, 10:27 PM
You're welcome guys!

06-13-2007, 11:08 PM
I use the captions function in Microsoft Word. I find captions more useful than highlighting, firstly because the captions don't intefere with your text but appear in a 'bubble' off to the side of the text (in Print layout or Web layout), and secondly because you can choose to hide all the captions if you don't want to be distracted by them.

06-13-2007, 11:17 PM
Reencam--I now have Word 2007, and it's under "Review" and "New Comment."

Under Word 2000, I think it was at the very bottom left of the document page. You'd highlight what you want to make a note on, then click that tiny "memo" button. If anyone can help me on this, go ahead. I forget!

06-13-2007, 11:30 PM
stomie: thanks, I've got Word 2007, too, so I think I remember it now. Though I'm not really sure why I've never used it before....

06-14-2007, 12:44 AM
I stress the highlight point for when you need to break up HUGE chunks of text. The color-coding will help you keep your ideas in place. For example. I had a big block of "romantic" scenes stuffed in one chapter. Then I realized I needed to have certain dialogue and instances happen throughout the novel instead of in that one chapter. Thus, the highlighting feature. I marked the chapter in red, and broke up the text. It was easy to see where the flow stopped and started. Furthermore, it's just plain old fun to shift and move and know that your colors got ya under control. ;)

But I'm not here to sell to those of you who are not convinced. Carry on! :)

06-14-2007, 12:46 AM
Star: Actually, you may have convinced me...almost...that it could be useful. I can't really think of an instance where I could just split up a large chunk of text and disperse it throughout the novel...but I'll keep highlighting in mind incase it comes up :)

06-14-2007, 06:17 PM
I don't think I was clear...yet again...argghhh! :rant:

The highlighting part comes AFTER you've completed your novel. You're reading through and you find that you need more dialogue here, more action there. Or you may find that a scene doesn't quite fit in one place, so you shift it into another. By color-coding these issues, they're much easier to find. Have...have...I made myself clear now? *trembling* :) :)

06-14-2007, 06:42 PM
I don't get it. Why would you write things in different colours, and how do you know beforehand which colours will be prettier where? And do you have to name all the characters after their colour, and what if you're colour blind? You'd be writing in the dark!


06-14-2007, 08:12 PM
Willow, tsk tsk, you didn't read my explanation!

The highlighting function is different from using different colors words. The only thing you're doing is highlighting text that you have to DEAL with. The rest of your document stays black and white. If you don't get it now, that means I can't explain it properly and I give up!:flag:

06-14-2007, 09:33 PM
That's an excellent idea! To think of all the paragraphs I've had spaced apart, trying to keep them all straight. Thanks for the tip.

06-14-2007, 09:43 PM
I think I just fell in love with that idea.....

I'm always trying to figure out how to let myself know that I want more dialogue here or more exposition there, etc. This usually happens while I'm writing a ms so I have to write on post-its and stick it to my computer. Highlight would be a lot easier...then I don't have to depend on the stickyness of a post-it, either!

Thanks Star! :)

06-18-2007, 06:48 PM
I am so happy you got me! Happy Revisions Reenkam!!!!

p.s. Another thing I find helpful:

Instead of having separate documents with stray notes that pertain to my novel, I just use my title page to insert these notes, bits of dialogue, etc. - and then I cut and paste when need be. This also help me to stop thinking of my ms. as a pristine piece that must be perfect the first time around. My drafts are filled with colors and inserts from top to bottom - I clean things up as soon as I take a deep sigh and type "The End" :)

Soccer Mom
06-18-2007, 11:03 PM
I like highlighting when I'm juggling multiple storylines and want to see where I deal with what. It helps me "see" the shape of things.

My best tip for revision is to read your work aloud, especially the dialogue. You'll be amazed at what you catch.

06-18-2007, 11:54 PM
I have dual monitors and tend to keep a working copy open on one and a source open on the other. It lets me compare the changes. I also use the second monitor for things like OneNote.

06-19-2007, 12:16 AM
Gee, that sounds too high tech for me. But whatever works for you! Giggles

06-19-2007, 12:39 AM
My tip on revising is simple: Print a copy, and re-type the whole damn thing.

Word processors make it easy to change stuff, but they also make it easy to think that you've revised when you really haven't. If you're retyping in a brand new file, you're forced to confront every word one by one and really re-think it.

06-19-2007, 12:45 AM
As a software person I'm tempted to use Version Control Software and other source code creation and management tools for this purpose.

Also, this "outlining" stuff reminds me of "Structured Top-Down Design" that was all the rage a quarter century ago, which soon became overloaded (oops) with OOP. Has anyone ever written a novel using these, uh, Methods?

06-19-2007, 12:56 AM
I love the track changes feature in Word. My agent makes suggestions and highlighted edits, and I can accept or reject her comments as I make my revisions.

06-19-2007, 01:04 AM
My tip on revising is simple: Print a copy, and re-type the whole damn thing.

Word processors make it easy to change stuff, but they also make it easy to think that you've revised when you really haven't. If you're retyping in a brand new file, you're forced to confront every word one by one and really re-think it.

I've seen this suggestion before, and while it may work for some it's not a technique I recommend. I first saw it in a book on editing fiction, and posted a question on another board regarding it. Among the many responses I received was a 700 word essay from Eric Flint, author of the 1632 series.

His essential point was that it's not worth the effort because all retyping the manuscript will address is the prose, not any issues with characters, structure or story. Among other things he stated that writers may not be typists, and so they will often focus on the typing rather than the writing. It's too much work for not enough reward. If there are issues with character and structure, those are best fixed by reading and thinking, not retyping existing words.

Another factor is that it takes time that could be spent working on one's next novel.