Reading Through the Old MS

I recently printed off a copy of The Next Paranormal stuck it in a binder and am hauling it around with me so I can edit at every opportunity. I need to pick up a new binder as my current MS binder is falling apart. It’s neon green with one of those clear plastic thingees so you can slip a sheet of paper or what have you on the front and spine and spiffy up your binder. I put some colorful stars on the front of mine. Perhaps I will decorate The Next MS Binder with a picture of My One True Love, Alexander Skarsgard. Right. Focus Carolyn!

A wee story for you: At work, I have this large very large project with an insanely impossible deadline. Now, large projects (not unlike a novel) benefit from some kind of documentation. Luckily, I am not the documenter for this project. But the person who is expressed great surprise at the fact that the document when read on paper looked and was completely different from its state when read on the screen. I, of course, am saying to myself, well, doh! (I did offer a warning about this, by the way, but you know the saying about horses and water.)

Be that as it may, my point is that it behooves a writer who is working digitally to read through a paper version from time to time. You will find errors, places where the prose requires fixing, story problems become apparent, you’ll read sentences that are pure nonsense or that do not mean what you thought they meant when you wrote them. You will be bored (fix or delete that right away!) and there will be places where you say, hot damn! This rocks! and Oh. I didn’t know that was going on between them!

Sometimes when I do this, I don’t get very far before I know I have to redo my opening. And, being the person I am, I am unable to continue reading until that’s fixed, reprinted and I can start over. In one case, this meant moving chapter 27 to chapter 1. In other cases it just means really tightening the prose or shifting the focus of the chapter.

I’m happy to say that I haven’t had to do that with this project. (yet) I’m not quite halfway done so there’s lots of things that can change between now and having 95K words written. And there are many places that rock. Yay!

I’m not typically a writer who does multiple drafts, and this process is why. By the time I hit 95K or so, the book is final form and already edited for story and language problems. Works for me. Might not for others.


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