Monday, April 8, 2013

Editing... The Old School Way...

Don't deny it. Sometimes old school is just plain better. Think of all those old school things out there... Vanilla Ice, Sock'em Boppers, beanie babies... okay so maybe that's not old school for everyone, but as a child of the nineties, it is for me. That's beside the point though. This week, I've been editing the work in progress, and decided to turn to a slightly more unorthodox method of cut and paste.

Not the ctrl + V type... the actual scissors and scotch tape type. Why might you ask, would I be so foolish to cover my Dining Room table with endless scraps of paper instead of just using my shiny desktop? Well, for one thing, we never actually eat at the dining room table, so someone should use it for something. The thing takes up half our living room. The other reason would be that I really can't spread out on a computer screen as much as I'd like. Here's the situation: I have three versions of the second-to-last chapter in my novel... and none of them are really what I want them to be.

So my solution to this problem, is to print them out, cut them to smithereens and somehow cobble them back together with scotch tape. That was the idea anyways. In the end, I think it helped me get more of a bird's eye view of chapter, than if I had just done cut and paste from word or Scrivner. In case you're interested in trying this out, here are some things I figured out while undertaking this experiment.

1. It helps to cut chapters into scenes first. Then you can evaluate the scenes individually.
2. Only like part of the scene? Cut it out and discard the rest. For me, it helped to go from a wider lens to closer inspection.
3. You will need an entire roll of Scotch tape. At least I did. Through taping scenes together, and piecing together the often small bits that I thought I could selvage, I used more tape than I do to wrap my husband's christmas present.
4. Don't start taping it all willy nilly like.... lay it all out. Here comes the advantage of the old fashioned cut and paste method. Lay out the chapter the way you think you want it, and start moving around the pieces. This way, you get to see all the possibilities in front of you, before you tape it down.
5. Don't shy away from rewrites. If it's really not working, there may be a reason. You may just need to start from scratch and rewrite the entire thing.


  1. I've never used the paper, tape, and scissors method, but I often start editing in hard copy. Then I usually write terrible stuff like "Do this better."

    Yeah, that's not so useful.

    1. Maybe they're helpful notes for later? At least that way, you can get your thoughts down to focus closer on it later.

  2. Sometimes printing it out and going over it with the old school red pen is more helpful to me than staring at a screen. And you can mix the pages up that way...which makes line editing easier.

    1. I was amazed at how much easier it was to pick out what I wanted to keep and what was just fluff. Just goes to show, sometimes there's no substitute for the red pen!

  3. Hi Jess- It's nice to see I'm not the only one with the tape and old school corrections out there. I also like to write Middle Grade :)

  4. I do a lot of things the old school way. I still handwrite my manuscript and then transfer it to my laptop. I don't know why, but I am much more creative when using pen and paper. I've never done revisions this way, but I do use my dining room table for plotting scenes with index cards and color coded stickies. Have you tried cutting and pasting using scrivener . I don't know how I did anything before Scrivener.

    Hi, I am your newest follower from the A to Z challenge. I am number 528 on the list.