All authors are unique and have developed various ways of producing and editing their work. As a long-time e-book fanatic, I have developed a method of using e-books and e-book readers as an editing tool which speeds up and enhances my editing process. It only takes minutes to set up, saves a ton of time, and allows me to edit virtually anywhere. It breaks up the process into “identifying issues” and then “fixing issues.” Waiting at the dentist’s office is now an opportunity to edit. Waiting for an oil change is another chance to make progress on my story. Downtime is now productive time, whether I’m in an airport or my easy chair.
I’m sure I’m not the only author who uses this method, although I haven’t heard of anyone else who uses it. I’ll share it with you, and you can decide if this method may yield benefits for the way you work.
I am currently editing the sequel to “Ripper’s Row,” which has a working title of “Ripper’s Revenge.” I just got the manuscript back from my co-author, Shawn Weaver, who has already applied his suggestions and edits. Now it’s my turn to read the story again and smooth it out even further before we send it to our editor, Magnolia Belle, and let her work her magic on it. Some of the Screen shots used are from my horror story, “The Hotel California.”
The story is in pretty decent shape at this point, and what I’m looking for are any inconsistencies, awkward sentences or dialog, spelloids, (my name for proper words used in the wrong context that spell-check won’t catch, like “from” instead of “form,”) and other mistakes that still exist in the manuscript.
The first thing I’m going to do, is quickly create an e-book from the Word document that Shawn sent me. It will take me about three minutes to convert the Word doc to an HTML doc, and using Mobipocket Creator, or Calibre (both free programs) I can turn it into a Kindle e-book and have it on my reading device in short order.
Once on my device, I can start reading and marking up the manuscript. At this point, my goal is NOT to fully edit the story on the reading device, but to make notes and highlights that will call attention to areas in the story that need my attention. Later, I will call these notes and highlights up on my PC where the real editing will take place, only much faster and better now that they have been identified and noted.
As I read the story and find flaws that need work, I have a couple of options. I can either use the “highlight” feature or the “note” feature built into the Kindle app for the reading device. I have also worked out a little system for making my marks on the manuscript that will benefit me later on. For instance, if I run across a comma that should not be there, or a missing comma, I highlight the word before and after where the comma should or should not be. Later, when I see two words highlighted together it means I have a misplaced or missing comma. If I run across an awkward sentence, I highlight the entire sentence. I know that sentence needs further attention. If I run across a “spelloid” I will highlight that single word.
If I find a flaw that requires a creative change, I will make a “note” in the e-book using that built-in feature. For instance, I may run across an inconsistency where I need to make a note like “Change POV,” or “Change Tense.” I will make that note at the beginning of the sentence or paragraph it pertains to. Notes can be short and simple, or can be more involved as in writing out an idea that would improve the story.
Using this method allows me to quickly identify problems and make a quick note if necessary, without breaking my stride in reading the story. This allows me to get a better perspective on how the story “flows” as well as identifying issues. After I have completed my reading and have made all my marks, it’s time to really edit, only faster and easier using e-book technology once again.
When I have finished my reading pass, I now have an e-book that is all marked up. There is now a file on my reading device that holds all of my notes and highlights. I connect my reading device to my laptop, and find all the files related to my e-book, and copy them to the “Kindle Content” folder on my PC.
Here is where my efforts will pay dividends. Now I open my marked-up e-book using the “Kindle for PC” application on my laptop. I open the e-book as if I am going to read it, and all of my notes and highlights are still intact. With my e-book open, I can go to View on the menu, and click on “Show Notes and Marks.” This will open a pane on the right side of my screen, with a complete list of my notes and marks, and their location within the e-book! Clicking on any of these notes or marks will jump you directly to the e-book page they pertain to.
Now I will open my unedited document in Word, where I will make my changes while keeping the Kindle app open and running as well.
I’m lucky that I have two screens on my computer, so I will open Word on one screen, and the Kindle app on the other. On the Kindle app screen, I will click on a note or mark and identify the change that needs to be made. Using the “search” feature in Word, I will then type in a few words that appear near the note, and use them to find the same location in my Word document. For instance, if the sentence that needs attention starts with “William ran across…” then I will type those words into the “search” window and click “find.” Unless I use those same words over and over in my document, Word will take me right where I need to apply my edit. That’s when I make the required change, and then move on to the next note or mark, and then repeat the process. I type in just enough words to find the location in Word, which only takes a second or two.
If you don’t have the luxury of two screens, you can have both apps open and simply re-size the windows so that both apps are visible at the same time. However, I love having two screens, so consider doing that if you can. It really makes a difference in how I work and my productivity.
I have described how this process works for me using the Kindle app on my Android touch-screen phone and on my PC, but it should be adaptable to about any reading platform and device.
I have found this method to be very useful for the way I work. It allows me to escape from my “writing chair” for some portion of my work, while allowing me to concentrate on identifying issues in one step, then quickly finding and fixing them in another. Perhaps it will work for you as well.
So, that’s my process. If you happen to see me in an airport messing with my phone, don’t assume I’m playing “Angry Birds.” I might just be editing my next novel.