Jun. 10th, 2013

jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
I'm finally getting back to this, now! I hope you enjoy this series.

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.

Step 3: The First Readthrough

Now that you've prepared for your edit, and recaptured the original vision of your novel, it's time to see what you've really got - not magic this time, but despair and imperfection.

This should be a fairly natural read through the text, at approximately the same pace as a reader, though you will pause from time to time. You should not make any changes at this stage of the game.

However, it is an active read. You should be paying attention not only to the text, but to your own reactions. As you go, note the following five categories of things in the manuscript:

  1. What things don't make sense? Where does the story fall apart?

  2. Where do the characters really shine? Where do the characters disappoint you?

  3. Where does the world really work? What parts of your world-building have failed to hang together?

  4. Where do you catch yourself skimming or getting bored?

  5. What of the book really worked?

It's key to note down each item. Make a note in the manuscript, for each of these notes, and on the paper, write down a description of the problem or positive thing you've found. You might even make notes about possible ways to fix the issue.

I tend to use an alphanumerical code. For example, you might call this set of notes '1' and each of the types of things you're looking for, A through E. Number each page as well, and each note on the page. So the first note in the first category on the first page would be marked in the manuscript as something like [1A1 #1].

It's very important that whatever code or tracking system you use, that you be able to come to your manuscript later, see the code, and be able to cross-reference to the place in your notes where you describe what was wrong, or what was good. I know this may be somewhat confusing at the moment, but the point is to be able to get to the end of the whole editing process and be able to look back at each section and find the problems you identified at each stage, to be able to formulate the appropriate fix for every scene, every chapter, every paragraph. Without ways of cross-referencing and easily coming back to your notes after weeks, maybe months of work, you'll have a hell of a time doing that.


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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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