Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Crossing it Out. IWSG February, 2019



It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  Co-hosts this month:  Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!
To read more, the list of participants can be found here.

Cutting bulk from my manuscripts has always caused me angst. To overcome my worry, I start a document for each project called  NovelNameOuttakes. This gives me a place to save all those useless scenes, in the off chance I might need to come back to them. May I tell you, I never do?

Recently, I tried something I’ve never done before. The last time my work was subject to critique from my writing group, I received consistent comments about cutting redundancy and moving entire blocks of writing between chapters. The feedback was spot on, but daunting. I’m a champion of making a real mess of things by cutting and pasting paragraphs and pages into the wrong place and confusing the dickens out of myself in the process. I was sure when I implemented the group’s suggestions, I was going to mess up the entire manuscript. Finally, I gathered up my courage, but instead of cutting anything, I highlighted text I wanted to get rid of and used the strike through key. Sounds simple, right?

It's not a key I'm in the habit of using, unless it helps me “strike” a humorous point here in Middle Passages.  Immediately, I experienced an “aha” moment. I was-scared-to-death nervous about cutting so much hard wrought language, but by lining through the superfluous stuff, I could keep it intact, while still seeing how improved the document would be without it. Bingo.

After that, I color coded. Blue text meant new writing to transition from the stricken part of the story to what comes next. Red highlighted text needed to be moved elsewhere and [bracketed markers told me where the red highlights were supposed to go.]

Using these techniques, I found could come back to the manuscript after an interruption and see not only where I had been, but also feel sure of what I should do next.  In the end, what I thought was going to be a confusing, agonizing, hair-pulling, scary, gosh-darn frustrating exercise turned into a few days of serious editing. When I felt confident I'd got it just right, I deleted everything I'd stricken, moved what I needed to, and returned a much-improved manuscript to a standard typeface that flowed the way my story is supposed to.

Man! Where has the strike through key been all my life?At the top of your screen, Dufus, where its always been. Even as I write this, I wonder if I'm the last one to the party. Are you reading this post thinking, "Well, duh?"

Do me a favor? Don't answer that.

What editing techniques do you use to keep yourself in control of your story?

22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad it works for you. Striking through and highlighting would confuse me. I just delete. Although usually I'm busy adding words...

CV Grehan said...

This is the first I've heard of using strikethru for this kind of editing. It's similar to using track changes. Some scenes come together easily. Some require a lot of tricks. This is a good one!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

This past NaNo, I either put brackets around chunks of writing I was pretty sure I wasn't going to use or moved them to the end of the ms. Worked pretty well for me!

Nick Wilford said...

I've been an adherent to the old "transferring chunks to a separate document" (otherwise known as the junk pile), but this sounds like a good idea. Glad it works for you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - I go Nick's route ... a new document - til something gets ditched ... or I put chunks at the bottom ... then if I need to I can access them again - good luck with your route - cheers Hilary

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's great that you have a way to implement the changes your critique group suggested and feel like it worked. Hopefully, you'll see what you need to change long-term and not have to do this all the time. I'm too wordy and tend to add scenes I don't need, so I'm watching that with my current manuscript. And it's working!

Rhonda Gilmour said...

Great post, Liza. I also tend to write fat first drafts, so I just copy & paste deleted bits into a long file entitled Deleted Scenes. I make a note of where they came from. Often, I'll return to harvest a key line or two from the cut bits. Happy writing in February!

cleemckenzie said...

Everyone has a technique that works for them. I think I do, and you're not the last one invited to the party by a long shot.

Astrid said...

I am so glad this technique worked for you. It wouldn't for me, as I am blind, but I will still use it for inspiration, as there are different ways to do text using a screen reader too.

Lynda R Young said...

Looks like you've found a way to edit that works for you. Yay!!!!!! Congrats! I use notes everywhere and text in brackets and I also use red text that needs shifting or deleting.

Stephen Tremp said...

I edit as much as I possibly can then send it off to my editor who always does a far better job.

Joanne said...

I'll say "duh" to me. I'm not the best at editing. Sounds like you've found the way. I shall have to try it. Hard to do, but no doubt you're reading good results. Good job!

Raimey Gallant said...

How wonderful you've showed us the technique in this post. I think it's a great idea for getting used to the idea of killing our darlings, for sure.

Jan Morrison said...

I create a dump (or treasure) station as a separate document. I love paring down my ms so I go at it quite wildly. I only use the dump station for chunks of text. I always keep too many versions of my me anyway - no fear of precious writing getting lost!

Amy Keeley said...

My editing process is currently in flux. In the past, I used track changes and multiple copies. Before then, I'd print out the story and ink it up with colored pens. Now, I've had to start working on my phone, which means I don't have a good way of tracking changes yet. Now that I'm using my phone to create the next book, I think I'm going to be relying on text files, but I'm not sure how to mark those up yet. I'm sure I'll figure out something.

Gina Gao said...

This is such an amazing post. Thank you for sharing!

www.ficklemillennial.blogspot.com

Diane Burton said...

I'm not sure striking through would work for me. But, if it works for you, that's great. Like so much of our writing methods, we need to find what works and use it.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

That's genius. I love it. I have confused myself more than a few times.

I often forget minor characters' names when I write. I hate to pause and look them up, so I use clemkiddlehopper so when I edit, I can correct it easily. I mean, Clem shoud stick out like a sore thumb, usually. Once clem made it to editing and I got a wth is this email. Good times.

Connie said...

This sounds like you've got a good technique worked out. I say whatever works for you, go for it. I just read and reread and reread, changing and rewriting as I go.

mshatch said...

I'm a deleter, Unless it's a long passage with info I might want somewhere else. Then I save it at the end of my notes/synopsis folder in case I need it.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I do something similar when editing :-)

Ronel visiting for Feb's IWSG Day Being an Insecure Writer -- And Happy About It

Chrys Fey said...

Using the strike through key during revisions (or using Track Changes on Word) would be an excellent way to stay organized.