Friday 12th February 2021

As the title suggests, I want to radically alter my approach to editing.  In some ways this has been building in the background over the past few months.

I’ve long had this thing where I write in Scrivener and then edit in MS Word.  I also write short stories and non-fiction articles in Word.  A large part of this is that comments and tracked changes don’t work in Scrivener.  There’s also something about the forced separation of it that I like.

However, it makes rewrites messy.  If I have to rewrite an edited document I have to go through all the pain of importing it back into Scrivener.  I’ve sometimes wondered if I should just edit in Scrivener.

It’s caused some problems in the past where I find typos carrying through rewrites despite having corrected them.  I’ve tried to solve this a bit by introducing versioning to my drafts, but it does mean that some pieces go through more drafts than they actually do as I track the document moving between applications.

Over the past few months, especially in doing work on Secret 7, I’ve allowed myself to get messy in my first drafts.  I always was to some degree with non-fiction articles where I had my outline in the actual document, and just deleted parts of it as I wrote.  Indeed, when I write up The Climb, my initial MS Word document has the start time, end time and wordcount inserted into it so they can be fed into my stat tracker at the end.  But when it came to fiction I liked purity on the page.

What I want to do is be able to take a first draft and really be messy with it at the start of editing.  I want to use coloured marker pens, I want to circle things, underline things.  I want to then take that marked up chapter, short story or article and use it to create an action plan.

I’ve been all-digital for a long, long time now, so finding a way to do this digitally has been restricted to something like PDFs and I dislike PDF to work with as much as I do a print out because it’s static.

Weirdly though, I really don’t use track changes as much as I probably could and when working with an editor’s digital notes, sometimes I get a bit lost.  I also think sometimes minor points get lost because when I’ve made comments on others’ manuscripts via tracked changes, it can seem quite cumbersome.  It pays to be more formal when you are dealing with someone else who doesn’t get how your mind works but I think highlighting a dodgy word or drawing a circle around it would work better for me when I’m doing an edit for myself.

So naturally, as soon as I got my new iPad and Apple Pencil I went into MS Word to see if I could use this set up to try and introduce a stage into my editing.

There’s some things I really like.  I like that you can highlight and scrawl in MS Word with digital ink.  I like it that the scrawl in most applications converts into text. But it doesn’t seem to do this in MS Word.  Whilst I like that the editing notes and manuscript are separated, this feels too much like marking up a PDF right now.  I suppose I can still go back in and edit the words afterwards.

One thing is clear is that I need to watch a few videos on how people edit with the apple pencil.  I want something that can capture my initial impression, and doesn’t have me ignoring minor, minor points because inserting a new comment and writing something feels like too much effort.  I’m hoping working this way will give me an extra level of granularity.

I’m still exploring at the moment.  I have only the beginnings of an idea of when I would use this or how I’d incorporate it into a process.  But I do have a couple of short stories that need editing so this is the perfect time to play around with this.

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