Friday, March 11, 2011

Distance Makes the Eye Grow Sharper

I'm still wallowing in revision hell. It's toasty. Good for my cold toes, yet occasionally itchy. Heh.

I recently got back a hard copy of my MS that a beta had read. The paper waste is guilt-inducing, I admit, but for the first time, I saw something I hadn't noticed.

The words.

The physical distance of seeing my pages of manuscript made a lot of my beta/CP comments suddenly very real. This flavor of comment in particular:

"This scene goes on for too long...it takes forever to get from point A to B..."

I mean, I could really see this stuff now. Maybe it's temporal distance, maybe it's really seeing the text in front of me on paper.

Have you ever only "seen" problems in your manuscript after seeing it printed in tiny little pages?

52 comments:

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I catch the smallest details, and I mean they have to be nitpick details that have been overlooked. Like a missing comma or a missing ? here or there. By the time I print I am pretty well on point. I read it outloud to catch most things, then hubs reads it outloud and I catch more...then I scrutinize each chapter and the send it to my critter and by then, I really don't have much to fix. Tiny stuff. I used to have to see it on paper but after awhile of doing Beta work myself I tend to catch it ;) Good luck with your revisions!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yes! I know, I must kill a lot of trees too, but it is amazing what you can find when you print it out. Or sometimes I change the font on my computer--that helps too. :)

Old Kitty said...

I always go through a forest (but I do recycle eventually honest!!) but I must see my wip in print with double spaces and lots of margins!!! Yes, I so agree with you - distance really brings clarity!!

Good luck with your revisions!!!! Take care
x

Sarah said...

I avoid printing things when I can. However, I think one additional reason we can spot things on paper is the novelty of it. When our eye becomes accustomed to looking at something, it skims over stuff it expects to see. Anytime we give ourselves a different way of looking, it ups the novelty, and therefore our attention to the detail. And of course--laying it out on paper does give a sense of quantity, which is harder to do when it's just on a screen. Best of luck with those revisions, Lydia!

Laura Pauling said...

I've never printed it out in tiny pages like that - book form - but it's a good idea. Reading my ms printed out always shows me where a beat has been cut short and I need to expand. Or something that makes no sense at all!

Anne Gallagher said...

I have yet to kill trees (except for requesting agents who want hard copies) but I really really really want to. I KNOW that would really help me in the revisions process. I think this time around I'm going to change the font and see what happens.

Connie said...

For some reason, seeing the words on paper is very different than seeing them on a screen. Very different things show up--it forces you to see the things that you've ignored/missed.

Andrea Mack said...

I always make at least one, maybe two or three printed copies before I say I'm finished the revision process. There's something different about reading a book on paper that allows me to notice what I never would have on the screen. I like the idea of printing it small!

salarsenッ said...

Sure. There's something about the feel in your hands, too. It makes it that more real. Sounds silly, seeing how we are the ones who've typed the words. But having them physically in front of us gives us a different vantage point, fresh eyes. I print work out often. (I do despise wasting trees, though.)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Printing off my work is the best way for me to gain distance and see those things I got too close to see.

Liza said...

I'm have tree killer tendencies too. When blogging, I find the change of font from the entry screen to the preview screen helpful in identifying typos. I'm going to try that on my WIP next. BTW, when I am done, I chop up what I have printed and use the back for scrap paper.

vbtremper said...

Wow, you are so organized! Distance is crucial. We have to get out of the immediacy of our stories to be able to look at them objectively and fix what's wrong. It's really the only way.

Happy Revising!
Vicki

Cherie Reich said...

Although I feel bad for trees, it does help to read your own writing on paper. It's easier to spot mistakes or be able to put scenes side by side and see what's going on in a way you can't do with having the manuscript on the computer.

Magan said...

After my first draft I usually go through and print out my manuscript 20-30 pages at a time and read through. Seeing the glaring errors and marking them with a red pen really helps to point out what needs to be changed.

And it makes me feel like it's real, ha.

Jess said...

I've had the same revelation that your beta reader did--I had about three long paragraph in a row, which was draining just to look at. It's harder to notice (and easier to ignore) on a computer screen. Great post!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I can relate to that, when I had my poetry book published I went over each poem like a fine thoothed comb for spelling and the like, had the book published then three years down the line found a couple of spelling mistakes.
next time will be extra viligant.

Yvonne.

BECKY said...

I ALWAYS print what I'm working on, whether it's a short essay or a chapter in my book. It's the routine that works for me. After I get to the point of being fairly happy with what I've written so far, I print it. Then I walk out of my bedroom office, go flop on the couch in the family room, with pencil in hand. I ALWAYS find things to change, too! Also, the longer my book has gotten, I've got it all in a 3-ring binder, and that's the only way I can keep track of what's what! Thanks, Lydia! You always inspire me!

Bossy Betty said...

Yep! Sometimes what looks so good in one form, screams out for revision in another form! Why does everything look so good on the computer screen?

Maria Zannini said...

I don't print my drafts anymore. I change the font or the color and it helps me pick up any errors I didn't see before.

Also, the distance of time does wonders. :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have stopped printing my drafts, else I would drown in a sea of paper. I can usually catch my mistakes on the computer.

mist of the blossom rain said...

Whoa, it's so awesome you finished the manuscript! I am so bad about finishing...
I can see how having your story laid out in book form can help you criticize yourself.

Carol Kilgore said...

No, because I've never printed it that way. But I have found many problems when I read it aloud.

Happy Weekend.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's why I always print out my work!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I'm doing a massive rewrite on a novel I wrote a bit ago and decided to print it out. Wow...I totally agree with you about seeing things differently. I decided to staple each chapter individually and found some of them had way to many pages. Something I never noticed before.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Heather said...

I catch a LOT when I print out my manuscript and take a red pen to it. That's why it's an important part of my revision process! Plus I just love to mark the pages up. ;)

Linda Gray said...

Absolutely! It's just different, the way writing with pen and paper is different from writing on the computer. It's more immediate, somehow. Whenever I have a difficult emotionally-charged scene to write, I have to do it by hand to get to its heart. Like there's a visceral connection between the hand holding the pen and the meaning of the scene. Same for revising. (I've taken to saving old drafts and printing on the unused side of the paper to do less tree killing.)

Matthew MacNish said...

I can't afford to print my stuff out very often, but I have done it, and you're right, seeing the words on the page from a distance can make a difference.

lbdiamond said...

Yup, I print out my MS too...generally after the third or fourth go through...I end up marking the page so much, it's hard to see the original words!

Seeing the pages printed out does make the words look different, though. Like they're not necessarily my own. Helps to create more objectivity, I think.

Good luck with revisions!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I've not printed that way, but that doesn't stop me from finding errors.:)

Melissa said...

My revisions are waiting until my CP's get through the whole thing. But.... I'm sure there's a lot of issues. Ugh.

Krispy said...

I definitely catch more stuff when I see the actual thing printed out. I don't know what it is, but sometimes on the computer screen, I'll just glance right past typos AND glaring errors.

Munk said...

Interesting... I've never printed on little pages like that. And now that I've seen it, I don't know that I can help myself from doing so... One day the trees will exact there revenge.

Meredith said...

There's no way I can revise if I don't print my manuscript out! But I need to print it in columns like you've done--that would help even more!

jbchicoine said...

I don't know that I've ever seen overall problems, but it sure does make it easier to pick out Type-O's

Jennifer Hillier said...

While I cringe at the thought of wasting paper, printing my work out in hard copy is the only way I spot mistakes. The words look totally different on paper!

M Pax said...

Time makes vision clearer. And, yes, I catch things when in print that I wouldn't on the computer screen.

The Words Crafter said...

Yep. When I print out my poems, the shape that appears, the rhythm of the words and lines...all seem real when they didn't before.

And, when I printed out my nano story, wow, the mistakes I found!

I try to save the mess ups and take them to use in art center. The kids love anything with words on it!

Jai Joshi said...

I always do my final revision and then my final edit on paper. That's the only way to properly see the writing in it's true state.

Jai

alexia said...

Yes, it really does help to see it in print. I hate killing trees too, but it makes a big difference.

Stephen Tremp said...

All the time. But I have a terrific editor to help me along the way. Sometimes we write data dump that we can break up and insert in smaller amounts along the way.

Carrie said...

I need to see it on paper to make any progress, otherwise I just can't make it all come together. I am going to have to start planting trees soon to ease the guilt...

Terri Tiffany said...

I always print mine out and read it. and wow--all kinds of things--not good things--pop out:) Revisions are not fun!

Ghenet said...

I edit better when I can print out my manuscript and do it by hand. I feel bad about using the paper too but it works best for me. Reading aloud also helps.

Hannah Kincade said...

Yes yes and yes. Although for my own general read through and scene notes, I've been using my ereader.

For line edits though, I will definitely need a printout.

Rachel Walsh said...

Definitely the typos! And where the dialogue is dragging; that always stands out much more clearly on paper than on the screen, for some reason.
Great post!

Robert Guthrie said...

Time and print VS computer - invaluable.

Tamara D Hanson said...

Yes. Any different type of format change helps me notice new issues. I tend to change font or color. Send to my Kindle for reading, etc... It's the change that forces my eye to take it seriously again. :)

Olga said...

Sometimes it's necessary to detach from your creation. That way, you will feel that separation from it; like it no longer belongs to you. You'll be able to see its strengths and weaknesses more objectively. This happens to me when I see my paintings on display in art galleries.

Carol Riggs said...

Yes, I've experienced that; found typos easier. I need to print my stories up when revising to see other ugly spots though. :)

Regina said...

I sometimes print it out so that I can really look it over to make sure that I haven't missed anything. Sometimes it makes it easier.

Tracy said...

Oh definitely! I think anyone who doesn't print out a physical copy of their manuscript (especially when it comes time to do line edits) is doing themselves a disservice. It's too easy to miss the feel of things while you scroll.

foldingfields said...

Yes, printing out the words is essential to "seeing" it for what it is. I have to have this too, and be able to engage with the story, red pen in hand. Glad you're making progress, though. Exciting stuff!

 
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