Friday, June 26, 2009

Managing a WIP While Editing

Soooo....I'm editing. I've got this 70,000 word document on a computer screen that needs to be assessed, reorganized, and added to/subtracted from. I wrote it primarily on my laptop (although sometimes notebooks were used when I was 'on location' at the park, roller rink, pediatric waiting room, etc.) But looking at the expanse of screen and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling is very awkward. I can't flip quickly between page 22 and page 222 (well, I can, but it involves computer commands.) At this point, I'm using my unwieldy print-out of the manuscript. I went to Office Max yesterday morning and bought some 1" binder clips that I've slapped on it to keep the thing from falling apart. I have a large supply of Post-It notes that I stick onto a page when I've got a question that needs to be checked out (like a continuity question, setting issue, forensic or police procedural fact, etc.) I also attach sticky notes to pages that have clues, red herrings, alibis--important plot points--on them so I can easily access these pages later. I've printed the story on one side of the paper and use the opposite page to add text to a scene or to dialogue. Cutting text is easy--just draw a line through it. I've also got a collection of photographs from magazines or printed pics I found online that I'll stick in the pages of my manuscript. Sometimes I come across faces in news media that remind me of my characters. When I do, I tear or print them out so I can picture these folks more easily. Drawbacks to this method: These papers are a mess and they get messier everywhere you go. They've been rifled through, drawn on, there are Post-its sticking out of the top, etc. A kid dripped on them at the swimming pool yesterday and I doused my pile of papers with coffee this morning. Another draw-back is that anything you do on paper has eventually got to be transferred to the Word doc. Even with these issues, though, I find I edit myself better on paper. It just helps having something tactile for me to shuffle through.