09 July 2014

My Magical Editing Hat

I've found an interesting and fun way to work on editing my book and busting out a third draft.

I finished my read-through of the second draft, marked it up with my red pen. I made cuts, added some things in, asked A LOT of questions in the margins. I made notes. I printed out all the emails from my beta reader and highlighted them. I was pretty sure everything that needed to be fixed was jotted down SOMEWHERE. I just wasn't sure how I wanted to start. I didn't want to go through like I did with the second draft, editing line by line, because that's really not necessary at this point. There are more big picture sort of things that I need to figure out, but the story itself doesn't really need to be rewritten. Some rearranging, some adding, some cutting, but not rewriting.

The first thing I did was open a new document and paste the
entire manuscript into it. I went through the whole thing page by page and put in all of my easy edits--all of the words I crossed out with my red pen. This took a few days but it was relatively easy. As for all of my comments and questions, I put those in as well, using the Comment feature under Review in Microsoft Word. Basically everything I wrote on my hard copy, I put into the digital one. Then I stared at it for a while, thinking, now what?

I didn't really feel like editing in order. Why? I don't really know, I just didn't. I hardly ever write things in order, either, so I wasn't surprised. There are some parts I'm really excited to edit, other parts I'm dreading (cough...sex scene...). I just had no idea which part to choose first. So I decided to leave it up to chance! I started cutting up little pieces of paper, folded them up, asked for one of my fiance's hats (he has a lot of stupid fedoras that he never wears but he gave me his Breaking Bad hat instead...) and voila! I had my magical editing hat!

How does it work? Well, each comment in the Word document is numbered, and there were 249 of them. Some are easy fixes--a quick rewrite of a sentence or paragraph, fixing some awkward wording. Some involve more thinking. Others involve complete scene overhauls. Each piece of paper in the hat corresponds with a comment. So I give the hat a shake, grab a piece of paper, and whatever number I get, that's the comment I have to work on.

But it's not just numbers. Oh, no. There are some bigger things that I didn't write in the margins of my manuscript. Figuring out the subplot, sneaking in certain moments or symbolism. So some of these pieces of paper contain a handwritten note instead, some requiring a free write about a certain character or rearranging a few scenes. Or I could get this one, requiring me to go through my LONG list of things to Ctrl+F and cut back on (364 "really"s. Really.)
Or I could get this one! Dun dun dun. 

It's working so far, except when I'm editing too late at night and pick a number that's too complicated to figure out, then just throw it back in the hat. It's fun, not knowing what I'll be editing next. I think it helps, too, to not be staring at the same page for hours trying to figure out how to fix a sentence. The back and forth keeps it refreshing, keeps my brain awake. Hopefully I can keep this up until I've gone through every little scrap of paper in that hat.


  1. What a fun idea! I like to start with the most difficult aspects, or I'll just go chronologically so I can make sure all the issues were fixed along the way. Still, I'm going to have to remember that hat idea. That's epic.

  2. That's a great idea - I might steal it! It's a good way to make sure you get to the parts you try to avoid, LOL.

  3. This is definitely a cool way to jazz up the drudgery of editing! Which to borrow a word from you- UGH. ;)

  4. Hehe, that's a fun idea. It would definitely beat the monotony of editing.

  5. That sounds like a brilliant idea for editing! I'll have to try it on my next project.