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EDITING HACK: Visual Platforms

O thou typo, small and crafty

Surviving every single drafty

How you make it through each round – a mystery

What we share – a violent history

– Ode to a Resilient Error

I just finished the last round of edits on The Chaos Circus before it goes to publication in a little over a month. Despite round after round of self-edits and three outsider-editorial rounds, a few typos still managed to survive to the that last round, like pro-wrestling underdogs none of us could pin down before.

Did I catch them all now? Maybe. I hope! One thing this process has taught me is the value of looking at your work in different ways throughout the editing process. It’s actually been proven that our eyes pick up different visual cues depending on what medium we’re consuming through – that’s true of reading our own work, too!

So I’m here to share a little editing hack I learned while editing TCC: To catch as many errors as possible, approach each round of editing on a different visual platform.

This is how I did it:

  1. Round One – Computer Screen. This was my first pass after letting the story sit for a bit, which is when I usually change the most things. Because I know how much hacking and slashing I’ll be doing through the jungle of the draft, it’s easiest to just do this read-through on the computer itself.

  2. Round Two – Printed Binder. Ahhh, sweet 8.5×11 paper, how I love thee. Binder edits are my favorite because it’s the first time I get to hold the book in a printed format and it feels so good. With this round, I personally try to read it aloud (usually to my mom, who is my beta reader) so I get a feel for the flow as well.

  3. Round Three – eBook. This round can be accomplished easily through a Google Docs, Scrivener, Word app etc. on a tablet or eReader. Once again, seeing the manuscript in this fresh format allowed me to really pick up on new things (I discovered a ton of overlooked typos in this round with TCC!)

  4. Round 4 – Hard Copy. This one really takes a big leap into preparing to publish. Whether traditional or indie, this is when you get those proof copies in your hand. I read through the TCC proof and found some more typos and awkward phrasing that didn’t stand out to me in the other formats. Check, change, and back off to the printer it goes!

  5. NOTE: Depending on how many drafts you write, your feedback from CPs and beta readers, etc., you may restart this process a few times!

The point isn’t that these steps have to be done in a certain order, by the way – it’s that maximizing on the different platforms in which you see your story will indeed help you catch things you went blind to in the other formats.

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