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Reading from the last page forward
Angela Martello
Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011 9:17 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


I was chatting with one of my freelancers about how it's obvious that some of the other freelancers do not read through the entire monographs they edit when they're finished one last time before telling me they're done and submitting their invoice. She told me that she has started to read her assigned monographs from the last paragraph forward. That way, she doesn't get caught up in the subject matter, but rather, reads each individual section as a separate entity.

I'm at the point with my novels where I need to do some more serious cutting. I want to cut at least 20K words from A Kaliphian Matter: Revelations. So, just a couple of hours ago, I started reading it from the last paragraph. In the last chapter alone, I cut 1,000 words! Considering that the book has 32 chapters - well, you all can do the math (well, then again, we're writers and editors ).

Has anyone else used this technique?

Angela Martello
Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011 11:23 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Three chapters, 3000 words!

Angela Martello
Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011 11:52 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Five chapters, 5000 words! Quite an exercise. And it's also helping me identify a few plot points I need to work on.

Joe Bridges
Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012 4:48 PM
Joined: 12/18/2011
Posts: 25


Being mostly a self-taught writer, I've tried so many different methods of editing. (Smiles wryly) My favorite lately is MS Word Spelling and Grammar check, but that one does almost nothing in the cutting department.

Yes, I've done it the last-forward method, the leave-it-in-a-box-for-a-year-(or ten)-and-read-it-again method, and everything else I could dream up. Most recently, I've tried using the delete-everything-that-isn't-going-to-be-important-and-entertaining-to-everyone-else-and-condense-the-rest-with-an-ear-for-voice-and-rhythm method, which resulted in my burning a lot of very concentrated hours of proofreading and editing to re-upload the first chapter again, and that's all I got done in the past 24 hours, with at least fifty times that many words to go, so I'm not sure if I can recommend my methods with a good conscience.

I read my "book" (the first chapter is all that's up again so far) in the reader, and found that it is still not perfect, which frustrated me slightly, since I thought everything I had done to the 75% mark of completion was already perfect and publish-ready before I started uploading any of it to Book Country (what a laugh!). End result: I slashed the first chapter by roughly 43 percent, from 4997 words to not much more than 2800....

Comment: Wow, I guess writing really IS a legitimate line of WORK.

All I can tell you is whatever you do, don't quit, and don't give up. The more different ways you look at your own work, and the more outside opinions you are able to utilize, surely the better it will become. (I'm saying this at least partly to reassure myself that I can live long enough to finish mine!)

;0)

Danielle Poiesz
Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 9:10 AM
Hi, Angela--

I've used this method before with proofreading but never with content editing of line editing. Personally it would make me nervous to edit another writer's work in this fashion for line or content editing, as there would be a higher rate of error in cutting material that doesn't seem significant but perhaps is. However, given you are so close with the story, I think this can be a useful technique if you are struggling. And it sounds like it has been so far, which is awesome! Trimming the fat, if you will, is an important aspect of the editorial process and, really, whatever makes it easiest for you to focus and not be distracted as you chip away is something I encourage! Everyone has a different process and sometimes it just takes a little while to find it. =)

Good luck!


Angela Martello
Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 8:21 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Hi, Danielle,

It is definitely helping find repeated phrases and words and unnecessary words here and there. I'm not getting distracted, so to speak, by the story and the dialog - I'm just basically looking at the individual sentences and taking them apart, trimming them, rewording them, and so on. You're right - I don't think I would look at someone else's writing this way, at least not for purposes of editing for content. I would just for the purposes of editing for house style and for checking spelling and grammar.

It also seems to be a good mental exercise for me. I'm all for anything that flexes the old gray matter!


Angela Martello
Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 6:06 AM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


6,000+ words. Bit of a slow down. Interrupted by a migraine (hate those cursed things), but chugging along.

Angela Martello
Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 10:53 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


7,000+ words!

Angela Martello
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:53 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Another 1,000 words (8,000+) edited out.

When I was actively writing the trilogy (which now seems like sooooooooooo long ago since I've been in the actively editing phase), I had made myself write a minimum of 1,000 words each time I sat down to write. I think my goal for this project is to set the same minimum: 1,000 words deleted each time I sit down to edit.

Angela Martello
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 10:43 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


10,000 words! And I still have about 100 pages to read through. Feeling pretty good about this editing exercise. (Of course, I'm also rather bleary-eyed at the moment!)

Angela Martello
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:44 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Up to 11,000+ culled from A Kaliphian Matter: Revelations. Just a few chapters left to revamp (especially the accursed FIRST chapter), then a quick review to look for typos, etc. (Man, this is TOO much like my day job!)

Hope to post the next draft by this weekend!

One thing I will say about being a member of  Book Country: Writing is a very solitary venture and, although my professional life has challenged and sharpened my editing and business writing skills, nothing really has done the same for my fiction writing skills. But being a member of this site certainly has done that! It's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too!


Angela Martello
Posted: Sunday, January 15, 2012 7:45 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Finished this exercise! Shaved more than 12,000 words from my book. Amazing how many unneeded dialog tags I dumped and how many crutch words and phrases I found myself rolling my eyes at.

RJBlain
Posted: Friday, January 27, 2012 10:24 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224


I have worked backwards before; however, I only do that for line edits or if I'm _specifically_ backtracking a plot arc. While I'm familiar with my own plotlines, there are enough small clues splattered throughout that if I do this method, something important _will_ get cut.

I do my edits the old fashioned way.

Print, ink, transfer. Add any new scenes that were exchanged for scenes deleted. Print (this time at single line spacing to save trees), ink, transfer, spell-check, ship to Kindle, read again.
Angela Martello
Posted: Friday, January 27, 2012 7:37 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Hi, RJ,

I had shipped an earlier version of my books to my Kindle some time ago. Definitely an interesting way to view the material. I couldn't actively edit, so I was playing more the role of a reader. Might be time to do that again.

I've been refraining from printing mostly for the trees, but I've been editing electronically exclusively at my various jobs for the last 15 years or so, so I'm used to working that way. I do, however, sometimes miss the feel of a pen scratching away at paper!


Alexander Hollins
Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012 3:51 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416


angela, agreed, theres something more final about dragging a line through a line of text that you dont get from pressing backspace. I really want a touch sensitive e-reader to be able to edit with for that reason. 

Rachel Anne Marks
Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 7:04 PM
Joined: 1/23/2012
Posts: 36


Looks like you're doing awesome, Angela! Congratulations on all the trimming!

I'm working on a revision right now on GOLDEN, but I feel like the most vital part is keeping story/character/motive continuity. I have to do the rework and then read over it one or two times, keeping an eye on flow and emotion, then read through again watching for plot elements and info for clarity--trying to become the "blank" reader each time.

But revisions are tough without a second eye to help out. I'm so so thankful for the people I critique with!


Angela Martello
Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 7:27 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Hi, Rachel,

Trying to become the "blank" reader is truly the difficult part. Part of the reason I joined the Book Country community was to get those second pairs of eyes - that and to be able to communicate with other writers about writing.


 

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