Print to Proof
Now that I'm done with the big rewrite of my WIP, it's time to proofread. I find that I am terrible at proofreading on the computer. I read an article last week about a study that showed people are learning to skim rather than read carefully because of the way we use the Internet. This has always been the case for me with regard to reading on my computer. If I really want to concentrate on something, I do better to print it.
So, I will be printing my full ms, punching 3 holes in it, putting it in a binder and then going through it with my red pen handy. I'm looking for punctuation and spelling mistakes, grammar, and repeating words or phrases. I know I'm a big fan of the words "really" and "just" and have to work hard to get rid of almost all of them. I also hope to discover where the story is flowing well and where it might need some help. I already know that I need to change where some chapter breaks are, and that will be easier to see when it's printed as well.
Most of all, though, it's super fun to see a manuscript printed. I highly recommend it if you haven't done it. That sight of a big stack of paper filled with words from your brain is pretty cool. A feeling of satisfaction that I enjoy every single time I finish a book.
Rewriting Goal Met
Back in 2010 I entered NaNoWriMo for the first time and wrote a 50,000 word novel in one month. Over the following year I revised it and readied it for submissions. It was a contemporary adventure story for boys. I submitted it several places and never got a single request to read past my opening 25 pages. So, I decided last fall that it was time to rethink this story. As much as I liked it, it obviously was missing something. Some higher stakes, perhaps. What if? I asked myself. Instead of my mc being a just-turned 13 year old boy, I made him an almost 15 year old girl. How would that change my plot? How would that affect the other characters in the book? I made the goal of completing this rewrite by the end of March, and here I am on March 31st proudly saying that I have done it. Yes, it still needs some proofreading and tweaking, but the major changes are made. And you know what? It actually is a much better book. It's more exciting and has a lot more oomph to it.
Now I don't suggest everyone do a major change up like this when working on rewrites. However, if something's not working with your story, ask yourself "What if?" and see if a major change is needed.
Now I'm back to my WIP to clean it up and get it ready to send to publishers. Wish me luck!
Writing by hand
It's old-fashioned, I know, but another good trick for helping with rewrites is to write a first draft by hand. In this age of lap tops, iPads and other convenient mobile devices, sometimes we forget we can just carry a notepad and a pen around with us wherever we go. I wrote the first draft of my novel For a Speck of Gold completely in cursive on yellow notepads when I was working at an after school program back in the early 2000s. While the kids were doing their assignments, I jotted down my ideas. I have written a number of short stories this way while sitting in waiting rooms while my daughter was taking dance or swim lessons.
While this might seem like a waste of time to some - I mean, writing into the computer and saving it is so much easier - think of it as an exercise. I find that I don't write as much by hand as I do when typing, probably because my hand hurts after a while. So, when I go to copy what I've created into my computer, I do an automatic rewrite. I fill in the light paragraphs, fix the obvious mistakes, catch a lot of the repeating words. What this means is, the first draft to be on my computer is already a second draft.
Give it a try and see how it works for you.
D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.