It never fails to amaze me how many times I can read through a chapter I wrote and still find things I want to change.
The truth is, though, I don't catch a lot of problems in my manuscript on screen. I don't see the problems until I print it out. I can think a chapter looks great on my monitor. I have it perfect now! As soon as I print it out and read it in hard copy, holy moley, the problems shoot right out at me.
I don't know why that is. I think it has to do with flow: I can see more of the manuscript in print, where I'm studying whole pages at once. So I can see where things connect more. Also, when I print off a few chapters together, I can see how they transition better. Somehow, on the screen, the chapters don't mesh together as well for me.
I absolutely have to do at least one revision pass on hard copy, most likely two. I do my best to recycle paper and print on the back of pages that have been used already. My printer hates this. It jams if even the tiniest corner of a page has been bent, and once it jams, it refuses to restart a print job. I spend a lot of revision days cursing at my printer. My kids clear out on those days. "She's printing off pages, let's get out of here!" Stupid "multi-use" printer. And don't get me started on how much the plain black cartridges cost. It's highway robbery. I don't even know what those cartridges are made of (crushed beetles? toxic plastic drippings?), but I'm betting it can't be good for anyone.
So I wish I could revise on screen, but I know I do my best revising on paper with a blue ballpoint pen. My mind was wired that way, and I don't think I can unwire it. The same pages look completely different to me in print. There's probably a psychological name for this visual perception gap, and I'd love to know if the next generation will weed it out by learning to edit on screen from school days on or if it will always exist. Or maybe some people can actually see the same thing on paper as they do on the screen. Can you?
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages