Monday, August 31, 2009

Won't Somebody Speak for the Trees?

Tip of the Day: Enjoy the end of the summer fruit season with a "French dinner": bread, cheese, and different fresh fruits cut up for the whole family.

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

6 comments:

Alissa said...

I'm a on-paper editor myself. Sometimes I do a first pass on the screen because I tend to type fast and make all sorts of typo errors and do things like typing completely different words not just hear/here but stuff like revelation instead of revision and such, but for the serious editing I need to print everything out on three hole punch and put it in a binder.

Lisa said...

Yes - Paper editing - thumbs up. Maybe try using it as weed barrier under your mulch?? That's green right?

Kate Fall said...

A binder! You know, that's a great idea. And mulch is a great idea too. Once when I was moving, I got a shredder and used my old pages as packing material.

Carmella Van Vleet said...

I'm definitely an on-paper editor, too. But I try to hold off until the last possible moment - until I'm about to burst - before I push "print." It's like a little gift to myself.

DeenaML said...

I like to have the printed version, too! I can't help it -- it feels productive to mark up hard copy and then fix the changes in Word. :)

Christina Farley said...

I totally agree! I have been revising on computer but I always do a print out revision toward the end. And I'm AMAZED at how I see the story differently and catch so many things. I just finished reading my entire manuscript and made the edits on the computer. I will do one more print out in the next week or so but yes, I agree!