Swoon Author Tiffany Pitcock: The Writing Process and Hands-On Editing
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve never been a big fan of editing. One reason is that it feels like getting scolded (though I understand that’s not what is happening). Seriously, give me a first draft any day. The other reason is that I’m a hands-on person. I can’t read a word document (or an ebook for that matter). I have to hold a physical copy in my hands. I have to be able to make notes and mark pages.
When I edit, I print out my manuscript and go at it with a red pen like a teacher grading midterms. I hand-write my outlines and my extra scenes and rewrites. It helps me visualize and keep track of the changes I am making, more so than I would be able to do in a word document.
A big part of revising Just Friends was moving scenes around. I had a hard time visualizing these moves. Whole chapters were moved around and condensed, and I felt lost most of the time. I’d put it off for days because it was too overwhelming. I’d have fifteen word documents open with different scenes in them, and I kept getting them confused. I was struggling hardcore and at the end of my rope. Then it hit me: I had to literally cut and paste.
I printed out the manuscript and cut out the
scenes that were moving and taped them in the right places. I bought a whole
bunch of page markers and had different colors for different meanings.
Something has to be cut? Blue note. Something moved? Pink. Add a scene? Green.
You get the picture.
Suddenly, it all made sense. I knew how to move them and how to make them work. Is it unconventional? Sure. Is it messy and time-consuming? Absolutely. Did it look like a child’s art project? You bet. But it helped me so much.
It’s also helped me enjoy the editing process much more, and feel like I have more control over my story. It wasn’t just people telling me to make changes anymore, but me deconstructing and reconstructing my work. It was a way to both improve and claim my work.