To Edit Is To “Right”

The gentle nudging of a friend of mine has landed me smack dab in the middle of my novel.

Editing.

You might not have known this before now, but I have been secretly avoiding that task by doing important things like setting up this blog, watching and chatting (only a little! Really!) with writers on Twitter, reading through the articles they’re recommending, doing research, doing laundry, cleaning my keyboard…

One of those articles I read got me a little excited. I wish I could recall where I saw it, but the author was clearly stalking looking over my shoulder as I was pecking away at the keyboard during the course of story-writing. Two things in particular grabbed my attention.

He (she?) said I should keep a list of names used in my manuscript. Check! (How does anyone get by without a list? Without one I would probably give a subordinate character three different names. And in a fantasy world that I am creating, I really really really need to keep track of cities, countries, rivers, temples, gods, kings, magical items, conceited weapons with names, ships…)

The other Wonderfully Wise suggestion was to keep a revision log. YES! I have one of those, too! Doesn’t everyone? I feel so smart now…

The way my revision log works (and, incidentally, that other clever author) is like this: I speed move steadily through my first draft without stopping. (Usually. Mostly?) When I get to a bit that makes me actually have to stop and think about a solution that I haven’t yet devised, I mark that place with a locator beacon. In red.

A locator beacon is a phrase that I can easily do a search for within the document. It might look like this: NameThisRiver.

Then I go to my Revision Log, where I paste the locator beacon and make a note of any further attention that spot might need, reminders for what needs to be accomplished, or what-have-you. I even go so far as to mark down the chapter in which it occurs.

Now here’s where I’m discovering another of the benefits of my sparkly new Scrivener application. Each scene is set apart in its own little document-within-a-document and given a descriptive title (and sometimes a longer description on the index card, which is helpful when you’re in the Outline Mode, but that’s another subject.) Sometimes the edit I make is more than just a one-spot-deal and I have to be sure that it carries through other pertinent places throughout the story. For instance, let’s say that my protagonist has been poisoned and is given medicine that he has to take every day in order to keep from keeling over. I want to show him remembering (or forgetting!) to take it, but where shall I slip those bits in?

Looking over my list of scenes, I can easily see – and go right to – the appropriate places, and I don’t have to scroll through the whole lengthy document or try to remember key words that I might search for. Awesome sauce.

And with that, it’s back to the Revision Log for me!

P.S. A special thanks to Kristie for nudging, editing, collaborating and inspiring! And to my sister for giving me a good title!

3 thoughts on “To Edit Is To “Right”

  1. Aw, look how sweet you are for thanking me! We're in this together, after all. Friends, partners even in this world of the word – what makes you successful strengthens and emboldens me.

    Thanks for being there!

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