My new favourite editing tool

One of the aspects of editing that I struggle the most with is seeing the big picture. I can whittle away at sentences, paragraphs and pages very readily, but getting the overview of a whole novel is not easy. As soon as I sit down to read work over, my pen is in my hand and I’m tinkering and changing. Not good.

I’ve tried a few tricks. I’ve printed everything in a different font, I’ve tried plotting points on charts and index cards (good things to do btw) but still I don’t have the distance I need to really see what changes should and could be made.

But here’s the new thing. I’ve discovered I can email my Kindle. It’s easy, quick and doesn’t involve the death of a hundred trees. My printer will still have ink in it when I really need to print off that bus note for school. I can’t mark up the manuscript. Okay, I can make comments and bookmark pages I’ve heard but I’m not sure how and at the moment, that’s a good thing. I also love that it’s light and portable, not a big pile of A4 (or US letter!) paper that I’d be too embarrassed to be seen with in case someone asked me if I was a writer. I can just get on with being a reader.

So for the first time, I feel I’m reading my book like any other book. I’m interested to see when and where I decide to take a break from reading (the lovely Kindle won’t lose my place!) and because I’m not being distracted by the small stuff, the big picture is finally coming into focus. I’m reacting to rising action, transitions between scenes, over-long paragraphs, character arc, plot points and foreshadowing and I’ve even noticed some word overuse that I was just too close to see before.

There’s a smart remark to made here about seeing the wood despite the trees being saved by my Kindle but I don’t have time for that right now. I’ve got a book to read.

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