April 22, 2013 by kristin
A while back, I wrote a post on my editing process, but I forgot to mention one of the more important steps I take when I’m trying to get to a polished manuscript. I call it the Kindle edit.
First, I save my Word doc in the “Web page, filtered” format. Then I use Mobipocket Creator, a free tool, to turn that html doc into a .mobi file. There are still some formatting issues in this format, but it’s good enough to give you the effect of reading it in a somewhat published-looking format on the Kindle. (I also send chapters to my beta readers in this format, as well as PDF. I give credit to my friends and beta-readers-in-chief at kirbyhowell.com for introducing me to this method.)
Then I load the file on my Kindle and settle into a comfy chair with a good, old-fashioned pen and legal pad. As I’m reading, I make notes on the legal pad when I notice a typo, awkward wording, redundant passage, etc.
This might sound kind of pointless. Why not just edit in Word, as you go? No pesky pen and ink. No killing trees. No trying to decipher horrible scribbly handwriting.
I do edit in Word … a LOT. A lot, a lot. But there’s something different about sitting down with your book away from your keyboard. You can read it like a reader. You can get caught up in the story, feel the excitement and anticipation again. You’ll notice the parts where you start to feel a bit drowsy, and the parts where you have to reread a sentence to fully get the gist.
You’ll also catch simple stuff you missed on the computer, even in your multitude of edits. I did (another) Kindle edit on my manuscript this weekend, because I’d made some little plot changes and wanted to make sure everything still flowed. I found a spot where I’d used the same word twice in one sentence unnecessarily – a pet peeve of mine – and it was in a paragraph that has remained unchanged since my second draft. I’ve read that paragraph probably fifty times and never noticed it.
Also, there’s something fun about writing a bit with paper and pen (especially a good pen). It calls me back to my pre-teen and teen years, when I locked myself in my bedroom and scribbled stories in spiral-bound notebooks. If I’m ever blocked about a character or a scene, I find fiddling around with it on pen and paper always gets the words flowing.
The final step in the Kindle edit is taking my legal pad back to my desk and fixing all the problems. Usually, they’re small – “Take out that extra space before the period.” Other times, they’re big – “The first chapter stinks. Fix that.”
Fortunately, I’ve edited enough that I’m down to mostly the little things. At least until an agent tells me otherwise, and then I’ll wrestle down whatever big things come along.
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