I posted this a few days ago, but I realized there's one more important thing to remember!!!
Tonight I am going to do something I haven't done since I was in grad school.
I am going to get a pair of scissors and physically cut up the first two chapters of my current work-in-progress (WIP).
Sure, I know about the cut-and-paste function in Word. Sure, I've heard of outlines. This extreme method of cutting probably seems crazy.
But I have to say, it is easiest way I know to physically see all the redundancies, missing passages, dangling storylines, etc. that can really plague a manuscript.
Plus, it's fun. And somewhat cathartic. Most importantly, it lets the WIP know who's boss.
From experience, though, I've learned a few things...
1. Don't cut more than 20 pages at a time. More that then, then you'll just end up weeping in a corner, looking at the little scraps of paper all over the living room floor. Which leads me to point two.
2. Don't try this on your desk or at the kitchen table. You'll never have enough room to see all the scraps at once. You'll need an entire floor to work on. Which leads me to point three.
3. Choose a floor where the cat won't roll around. Nearly impossible in my house. But I have a solution to this problem. Lay out an empty box next to your scraps. Your cat will stay in the box.
4. Number as you go. Personally, I use elaborate coding schemes, numbering my paragraphs in the order they go. 1A, 1B, insert 2D here, put 1/2 of 17 here, and last half of 13 here. But sometimes I forget my ordering system. So, 4a. Don't forget your coding scheme.
5. Don't forget the tape!!! The best part of this process is taping together your newly structured WIP. You'll feel really invigorated and happy, I promise. But this brings me to point six.
6. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine. No, not to celebrate. That comes later. But rather to ease the inevitable shrieking and tearing of hair that will occur when you realize that you have to sit down at the computer and make all these tedious changes.
7. Promise yourself that next time, really, you will write in a more orderly way. If not, it's on to chapter 3 and step one above.
But I'm curious! Has anyone else done this old school cutting and pasting? Do you find it works? Or am I raving bonking mad?
And now my addendum...
8. Don't double-side when you print! Like I did. Boo!!! Sort of defeats the whole purpose.
2/11/2013 10:56:08 am
I did this when I was working on my master project. And agree with your comment on coding. I ended up writing an index for my coding system.
2/11/2013 11:29:28 am
Nooooooooooooo! Not the scissors!!! ;-) Hilarious post! Good luck!
Michelle K C
2/12/2013 09:00:50 am
I never used the scissor/cutting method you described, but it would have been quite helpful...all those years ago!
2/13/2013 02:03:17 am
Augh! I haven't done that since senior statistics. I still have PTSD from that nightmare. Better get the whole bottle of wine--one glass may not be enough!
2/15/2013 11:19:21 pm
I wrote the main idea of each paragraph or section on an index card, numbering them in order through the chapter, and then scotch-taped them to a big wall where I could move them around, and feel like I was on <i>Homeland</i> or something. Same principle! But I like the challenge of boiling down my own thoughts to an essence for the index card (which is usually half the battle for me anyway), and then avoiding the temptation to get bogged down in re-reading the prose when I'm just supposed to be re-organizing the structure. But I love this idea of what you do! Double-siding = hilarious.
Nick, now see, your process just makes sense. I ended up just doing a hybrid, partly because I did double-side by accident, and partly because I felt like threatening the WIP. So I sat with the printed copy and xx'd things off as I worked on my computer. So the cut and paste Word feature ended up trumping old school :-)
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Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.