Monday, August 1, 2011

Three Tricks to Keep Your Eyes Fresh When Revising

The problem with revising? Keeping our eyes fresh when reading our manuscripts each time. After the third or fourth read-through, we can't help but skim problem areas. They become all but invisible. And while I always advise waiting a minimum of two weeks between finishing the first draft and starting revisions, we don't have the luxury to wait weeks between each revision pass.

365: 30 - 30.01.09
Photo by foxtongue

The tricks I use aren't new. I found them from other writers. But they're worth repeating because they work.

Three Tricks to Keep Your Eyes Fresh When Revising:

1. Save your manuscript in a new file, single-space it, choose a new font, and change the size of the font. Print it out and read it.

2. Mentally read the book in first person if you wrote it in third person or vice-versa. This helps with point of view. You'll notice where characters see things they shouldn't, and it will help you find holes in your writing.

3. Read the manuscript out loud.

After I work through the major revisions (plot, character, pacing, and so forth), I use all three tricks, in order, with every manuscript. Sure, it takes extra hours, but by the time I'm reading the book out loud, I've eliminated most of my repeat words/phrases, tackled point-of-view issues, and am confident the book is ready to submit.

What tricks do you use to keep your manuscript fresh when revising?

Have a fabulous Monday!

30 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jill. I had never heard of number 2 before. Great tip!

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  2. I have more trouble with some manuscripts compared to others. But the biggest helps for me are finding betas who haven't critiqued chapters and letting my work sit for about 6 weeks.

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  3. To be honest, I actually force myself to find the time to have a couple of weeks distance between revisions. It's the only way it works for me, and I tell you, patience is better than a problematic ms! :o)

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  4. Thanks for the tips. Us newbies will take all the advice we can get.

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  5. Printing a fresh copy is imperative. And I have been using the read aloud method for years. Proofreading on screen works up to a point, and then it simply has to be on paper.

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  6. Great tips, Jill. I always print mine out, but I never thought to change size and font. Makes sense.

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  7. Great tips, Jill!
    I've been working like crazy on rewrites and I missed at lot of things my CP found that I should have seen- but on the 5th read-thru in a week, I was reading what I thought I wrote...with blurry, crossed eyes! :)

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  8. I definitely read everything out loud. That helps big time!

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  9. Reading it backward or in gibberish. :D

    No, but I've also heard sketching a quick outline on notecards as you go could help.

    #3 is a must!
    ~ Wendy

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  10. I must admit, I haven't tried reading my manuscript out loud, but I know I should. I need to do this.

    Great tips, Jill!

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  11. Great tips! Putting the manuscript away for a couple of weeks (and working on a new project) then picking it back up again can help, too. Although I usually don't have time to do that!

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  12. Michele: #2 really helps me with deep characterization. Try it sometime!

    Laura: I hear you! I've never used beta readers, but many of my friends rave about them. I applaud your 6 week rule--distance is a must!

    Jessica B: That's great! 2 weeks between passes can only benefit a ms!

    Kerry: I was a newbie once too and had NO clue how to revise. I thought it only meant checking grammar issues! Revising always wears me down toward the end, but it also fulfils me--I love the feeling that my books are as polished as can be.

    Olivia: It's amazing what my eyes miss when I only revise on screen. Hard copies show me new probs!

    Jessica P: Our eyes get used to seeing things in the same font. By changing the size and type, we trick our eyes to seeing the words in a new way!

    Jennifer: Oh, I know what you're talking about! I'm on my final week of revisions, and my eyes have a haze over them!

    Katie: I do too. I always save it for last, but I know some authors actually use it for their first revision pass. It's a gem no matter when we use it!

    Wendy: Ha! I MUST try reading it backward! :)

    Heather: Everyone has their own methods. If you're feeling insecure about your manuscripts' readiness, give the reading out loud method a try!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  13. Elizabeth: I wait at least 2 weeks between draft and my first revisions, but like you said, I don't have that kind of time for subsequent passes!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  14. Reading out loud is so valuable, and I need to employ it more!

    Great tips!

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  15. Jill, I couldn't count the times I printed out my last manuscript! Thought my printer would break! :)

    Oh...and to keep my eyes fresh...I'm sporting a brand new pair of progressive trifocals! (I'm not trying to be funny--I really AM singing "I Can See Clearly Now...)

    Great tips!

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  16. Thanks, Jill. I read aloud, but have not tried printing it in a different font or reading in a different POV. Great ideas.

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  17. I read my ms out loud several times.

    Great post.

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  18. These are great tips, Jill. I've used the reading aloud, but not the other two. Since I'm in revision mode right now, I'm going to try these before I get to the reading aloud phase.

    Thanks for sharing!!

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  19. I need to start reading my ms out loud--I'll keep that in mind. As an unpublished writer, time is on my side. My goal is to finish a draft, move on to the next novel (about 6 weeks to write), and then go back and do edits. I think this works since I do tend to edit as I go.

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  20. Erica: It is valuable, but I always forget how much longer it takes to read that way!

    Cynthia: Hooray for new glasses!! Sight is such a blessing! And I'm loading a new toner cartridge this afternoon. Nothing like another print-out to get this book revised!

    Storygal: That trick is newer to me also, and it really works. You'd be surprised at how many red marks appear when revising this way!

    Loree: Awesome! It's a great trick, isn't it?

    Eileen: They work for me! It can't hurt to try!

    Ralene: You're such a determined, fast writer--your way works great!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  21. Jill
    Great tips! I'm deep in the editing process, and it's getting hard to keep my eyes from blurring together. Reading aloud does help, but I've never tried the spacing trick or reading in first person.
    Thanks!

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  22. I like to print my pages out, double spaced and I read them backwards....this is more for the proofreading aspect.

    For revisions, I read outloud.

    GREAT post, Jill! :)

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  23. Awesome tips, Jill! I'm amazed at what I catch when I print my manuscript out. I just wish I didn't have to waste so much paper. But maybe my new Kindle will help solve that dilemma? :)

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  24. Jill,
    Thanks so much. These are great tips. Love the idea of changing the font.
    Susan

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  25. Stacy: *rubs eyes* Blurry eyes? I can relate! Good luck finishing revisions!

    Tiffany: Read them backwards? Love it!! I've never tried that before. You have me intrigued... :)

    Sarah: I know, I feel bad about the paper too. I only print out my books single-spaced in a size 10 font because of this. It cuts down about 1/3 of the paper.
    Now, a Kindle would eliminate all of the paper!

    Susan: Thank you! My friend Connie told me that one. It's a great tip!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  26. A good list of things to do. As you say, time consuming, but worth it. I could have used these before I sent my last book in.

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  27. Thanks for the tips, Jill! I must say we employ #1 & #2 in our critique group - not for the sake of eye strain, but they DO help catch mistakes.

    Happy revising!

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  28. Nancy: I could have used all three tips with my first 3 books!

    Maria: Absolutely. They help with flow, too!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  29. Great tips! I also like the read-aloud feature -- it's a pain because on my computer I have to convert the document to a PDF first, and the computerized voices are awful, but I found it incredibly helpful. I listened to my whole novel that way. You hear the awkward phrasing, and if you start to fall asleep (a real possibility with that monotone voice yapping at you), you might have gotten to a part of the story that needs to be livened up a bit!

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  30. Some useful tips here, Jill. We all become blind to our own faults, and need guidance when revising.

    I don't know why, but once I print a manuscript out, I see things I didn't see before - crazy - and such a waste of trees and energy

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