Thursday, February 20, 2014

Writing tools #7

Today, I want to talk about the greatest editing tool ever! The red pen! Any old red pen will do, but a great red pen with the right weight will make your edits come to life because you will stop thinking about what you are writing and focus on 'stabbing' your work until it bleeds to death and is reborn as a better piece of writing.

This is the most recent chapter I've been editing for PAINTING. I'm updating a chapter a week for my critiquing partners while I go through BURNING's second draft (Which has like twice as much red lol).

First of all, let's start with the pen itself. I use the Coupe, clicking ballpoint pen made by Pilot. This pen has a really good weight, has cheap ink refills that come in every color (including red!!!) and has a good thickness to wrap your fingers around for long hours of editing. The grip itself is so so, but it's the weakest part of the pen (if you like grips that is, and I don't). For that, you can just buy one of those slide on grips and put it on yourself. The pen ran me about eleven US dollars over here in Japan (1,100 yen) and should be about the same in the US or whatever country you live in. I like clicking pens, but this model does have a cap version.

Now, why red? Well, red is seen as the standard, so what's new about using red? Why not green like some people suggest, so I can think about money? Money may be good for a later draft, but what your work really needs is blood. Not money. You need to make your characters, world and story bleed. You need to stab every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence and every word until you have cut the life from it, and it has no choice but to die. Because a story can only be reborn if it has died first. And, while there are creative ways to kill things with money, it just isn't as effective as a blade. Red is also much easier (Unless you are red-color blind) to see on the paper when typing your edits up than green, blue, etc.

For the writing out edit, there are several ways to do it.

Personally, I like to print the entire second draft in Times New Roman and work from there. After having a few people look over key points of the second draft, I take notes and make a few changes.

Then I like to change the font to Garamond and print the entire novel for the third draft.

Once the third draft is finished, the piece needs to set for at least 2 or 3 months. As a writer, this should be the easy part! We are all super busy, so get to work on your next project, an older project or visit those people who keep distributing you. I think they're called your family and friends.

After that, you print it out in Times once again, do a fourth draft and let readers go all the way through it. I correct each chapter by chapter as the readers make their way through it and once they're done, I print out a final draft and start to do my final blow, trimming down every word I can.

I use a red pen all the way through five drafts. I like the blood and using a pen instead of a real knife makes the cleanup much easier.

Anyway, I hope this helps your writing process improve.

Thanks for reading,

Next: Sample Scene

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