This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.
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I was born before computers became the gadgets of the day, so perhaps my brain wasn’t programed to see words on the screen like a child born into the world of computers, tablets and cell phones. Or maybe the human brain processes information on a paper differently than it does on a computer screen.
I don’t have the answer. I do however, recognise that my brain reads text differently on a computer screen, and mistakes I see easily on paper are dismissed on my lap top. I realised this more than a decade ago, so since then, I added the printing step to my editing process.
Today I printed the manuscript of Fowl Summer Nights. I didn’t print it the same as I have it on the screen. Instead, I used one font size larger (from 12 to 14) and increased the spacing between lines (1 to 1 1/2 spacing). Many suggest to use a different font to trick the brain into thinking it’s looking at a totally different story. I do this sometimes, but I didn’t do it this time around.
It took me two hours and twenty minutes to read the novella from start to finish, and another fifteen minutes to enter the corrections into the manuscript computer file.
While I’m reading, I write on the paper using a bright red pen. I also have a yellow highlighter handy, and this time I used it to highlight the adjectives I used to describe Mrs. Hazel Vorwerk, the neighbour who lives next door to Mildred Fowler.
Readers never really get to meet the widow Vorwerk, but they learn a lot about her from the descriptive words Mildred uses to describe her. By highlighting the adjectives, it gave me the opportunity to see how they grow throughout the story, and it lets me know if I’ve used too many of the same ones.
According to my brain, the only items on a computer are those visible on this small screen. It’s near impossible for me to connect one piece of information in the document with something several pages away. The electrodes in my brain fail to see the connections.
The printed version however allows me to see the ‘big picture’ and provides those connections. I can lay out each chapter in its own little stack, perhaps rearranging them if I want. Printed pages can be set out side by side, so I can see how all the chapters started, so they all don’t begin with, “It was a dark, stormy night…”
The added bonus to this editing step is that I now have a well-edited, printed copy of my manuscript that can be put away for safe-keeping. If you don’t back-up your computer system and it crashes, you at least have this copy. Or if you put aside the story because life gets in the way and years later you decide to return to it, you’ll have this copy that didn’t get lost in the shuffle of upgraded computers, lost memory sticks and family break-ups.
As soon as the corrections I made on paper were added to the computer file, I sent the file to my editor. Now I’m set to work on other aspects of the publishing process.
This completes this step in the Draft to Book in 30 Days challenge.
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