jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
Jessica Steiner ([personal profile] jessicasteiner) wrote2013-03-13 06:02 pm
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How to Edit: OtherWhere. Part 1 of ?

For all sections in this series, check out this post. I recommend reading them in order, but if you want to go straight to a particular concept, you can use the Table of Contents to find the right post.

I've decided to do periodic (not necessarily regular) updates as I go through the editing process with OtherWhere. My experience is that people have a hard time with this editing thing. This is not my first time going through the editing process for a full novel in a structured way, so I'm hoping if I dig in and describe my process, it may help people who are flailing around, changing sentence structure and fixing typos and staring at their novel, with no idea where to even start with tackling the big problems.

Yesterday I finished my first read-through on OtherWhere, so this seems like a good place to start.

For full disclosure, I'm generally following the process in Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel course, which you can purchase by following this link over here. I followed it strictly for Mortis Unbound, but now that I've done it once, I'm making changes and putting my own spin on it. I'll be describing it generally as best I can; however, I won't be reproducing the worksheets that I'm using here. If you want those and the full detailed instructions, go buy the course.

If you don't want to or can't afford to buy the course, my plan is to make these posts detailed enough to help teach you how to edit, either way. I hope these will be useful to people, in themselves.

Now then. So far, I've completed three major editing steps, which I will describe over the course of the next three blog posts.

Step One: Preparation

Preparing Your Novel

First I had to reformat and print out my entire novel. Yep, the whole thing. I'm a fan of the digital form, but I have found that it's just not as easy to do editing without a paper copy. Though it may seem like a lot of paper, I recommend that you do the same.

To format my novel for editing:

1) I made sure the whole thing was in a single electronic file, and turned on the "page numbering" function, so every page was numbered in the top right corner. You will be glad you did this. When I edited Mortis Unbound, I wound up manually numbering the pages, which is dumb.

2) I double-spaced the entire book. This sure uses a lot of paper - believe me, I sympathize, OtherWhere is nearly 380 pages printed out - but it really helps you read and notice mistakes, and also gives you more space for writing in changes. It's worth it.

3) I also formatted it so that the first line of each paragraph was indented, just like published novels, instead of having a double-return between each paragraph like a blog post. I tend to write my books and stories as if I'm intending to post them online (legacy of many years of fanfiction writing), but I fix that formatting before beginning a proper edit. This is optional, but it's sort of a page-saving measure to help counterbalance the double-spacing.

4) Finally, because during my first editing experience I cursed and wished I'd done this, I put a page break at the end of every scene. During the editing process, you may find yourself rearranging scenes, and it's a lot easier to do this if each scene is actually a self-contained series of pages rather than having chapter and scene breaks in the middle of a page.

Preparing Your Space

The rest of the editing preparation involves getting your space ready and gathering the tools you're going to need.

I like to do my editing at my desk in my office. I turn on music and I can spread out the worksheets and the binders. I just find that having a table is pretty important, though if you want to do it on the sofa, it's not impossible.

As for the tools, even if you're not going to go whole-hog with purchasing the worksheets, it's worthwhile starting a binder so you can keep notes in a self-contained place. You will want a place to keep all the little things you think of, not to mention all the problems you will find.

Get pens you like and which are fine-tipped, and don't run or smear.

I actually have one of those cheap plastic boxes they sell at Staples, which is large enough to hold all of my tools: pens of at least four different colours (most of them my favourite fine-tipped blue pens, but also a couple of other colours will be needed eventually), white-out, small sticky-notes, a tiny stapler, a small pair of scissors, and a roll of tape, and probably some other things that I can't think of right at the moment. I also have a package of basic index cards, and a container of those rings you can run through a hole-punched piece of paper to hold several of them together.

Also, having a 3-hole-puncher handy is helpful. And you'll definitely want a ream of lined paper if you're not going to buy the course and have the real worksheets.

Get all that together and I'll see you next time for the next step.