Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to Make Boring Editing Fun

Admit it.  99.99999% of writers hate editing our work.  But its necessary 100% of the time.

If you follow my Twitter, I recently bemoaned the fact that I realized I needed to change my entire novel to first person POV. 

I was dreading the work.  It was enough brain-numbing work to sit down and just edit my old chapters for consistency, plot, character, big picture questions, etc. etc.  Now I would have to go through and recheck/change every single pronoun and verb TOO?! 

Needless to say, I was doing my writer whining.  I tried the "Find and Replace" feature (word to the wise, it doesn't work).  I tried just skimming and changing each pronoun and verb.  That didn't work either.  I would miss ones and some sentences would just not sound right.

So, I printed out my old draft and began retyping into a new Word document.  I would see the sentence, "She ran through the castle," and type, "I ran through the castle."  It seems the long-way to do it, but it was much better.  Here are the reasons why:

1. I corrected every sentence. Didn't miss a single one. Less errors!

2. I was able to fix those weird sounding sentences. The majority of the sentences switched over just fine from third person close to first person, but there were always those occasional sentences that just didn't quite sound the same.

3. I was able to feel like I was writing rather than editing. There is something dull and draining about copying and pasting text, reading it, marking it up with a red pen or highlighting the document on the computer, and looking for ways to tweak.  Backspace.  Type type type.  Backspace.  Move.  Backspace.

This way, I felt like I was writing my novel all over again from scratch, even though it wasn't really, and it was a lot more fun.  And I was editing as I went.  I would type a sentence and it would feel funny or I would realize that it didn't quite fit with something I wrote later.  I would change it.

4. Voice? Got it down. This may only apply because I was changing the POV to first person, but I was able to find my protagonist's voice much better.  It was more developed.  I could hear her cadence in my head, how she said things, how she spoke.  Things got more real.  I overwrote, which is always good because you can always delete later.

So, I began thinking...this is probably a better way for me to edit in general.  I'm sure there always situations where I need to sit down with that red pen, but I found this method much more enjoyable and effective.

Hope that works for you too!  Edit away!

Soli Deo Gloria.