Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Writing Advice: the Printout

1. Print out your novel. You must. There are so many things that glide by on a screen that become glaringly apparent once you look at a hard copy. Then, read through the printout briskly two times, following the instructions in the next two bullets.

2. Read through the printout in a "doesn't feel right" run. Hold a highlighter in your hand and whenever writing quality flags, simply swipe the highlighter through that paragraph. Keep reading. The important thing is simply to note the places where the manuscript doesn't feel right, not to stop and fix those places. That comes later. You want to keep your eyes fresh, so keep going.

3. Then pick a different color highlighter and do a "bon mots" read-through. My goal is to have one well-turned phrase per page (or solid metaphor or incisive snatch of dialogue). If I swipe, I can visually see pages that don't have that, and go back in and add later.

3. Giving new meaning to "hot off the press": as you print out your novel, sit on it. This was the suggestion of the youth in my household, who waxed enthusiastic about the warm paper. Freshly-printed novels make great seatwarmers. She also noted that the heat transfers: "Feel my butt! Feel my butt!"  This is how fine literature is made.

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