Sunday, October 10, 2010

Revisions - The Final Read-through

I recently finished a big batch of revisions on my current middle grade novel and sent them off to my agent. Before I did, I wanted to give the story a final read-through, to make sure everything flowed and made sense, to make sure I picked up all the threads or plot lines I had changed, and to give myself a sense of pacing.

Because I read more easily from paper in front of me instead of words on the computer screen, I decided to print it out. My manuscript was formatted with double spacing, which is standard in the publishing industry for ease of reading, making notes, and (supposedly) ease of catching mistakes. I tried something new this time - a trick that I learned on twitter - or should I say, from a link there to an article I read (and I can't remember who recommended it) but it stuck in my head and I wanted to try it. I used single spacing and a different font. Here's how you can do it, too.

First, open a new blank document and label it as the single spaced version. Then open your original, nicely formatted document, highlight the entire thing (select all) and copy into the new doc. In the new doc - highlight the entire document again, go to Format - Paragraph - Indents and Spacing - and under Line spacing (below) chose Single, and hit Okay. Then save it, and presto - your entire document will be reduced by almost half - in my case - from 282 pages to 157 pages.

Then, while you have the whole document highlighted (or choose select all, and highlight it again if it's not) change your font from probably Times New Roman, which is standard to a Sans Serif font. In my case, I chose Tahoma. Hit Save.

Presto. Your manuscript looks a bit more like a finished book (and will read like one, too.) Yes, your chapter headings won't all be perfect, but you don't have to fix those unless you really want to. It's just for you to read through, and you've already saved paper by cutting your page count to almost half. But better yet, there are many things you will catch this time around that you didn't in your double-spaced version. (As in OMG I just used the word "just" five times in two paragraphs.)

Anyway, suffice to say that I caught LOTS of things on this final read-through that I believed improved my story, and after I marked them in red pen, I went back to my original, double-spaced version, and fixed them.

Have you ever used this method? What did you think? Any other revising trick you'd care to share?


Loretta Nyhan said...

I'm just at the point where I need to do a complete read-through on my YA before I send it to Jo. This is a GREAT idea, Linda. Thanks!

Sandy Williams said...

Nope. Haven't tried it yet. I think I will after I finish this round of edits, though. :-)

Linda Benson said...

I was amazed at how differently it read in single-spacing. I think I might try writing my first drafts this way, too, and see what happens ;-)

Vonna said...

I haven't heard of this, but it's a great idea. I'll do that on the ms I'm currently revising. Thanks, Linda!