One of the weirdest things I discovered early in my career was that a story I’ve been writing on a screen not only looks completely different on the page, it reads completely different on the page.
That’s why a paper edit is crucial.
I print the book out and it’s new again, places where there are holes in the story are glaringly clear, places I can easily cut leap out at me. It’s just a brand new story, and that’s invaluable. So why don’t I do the whole thing on paper? Have you forgotten how many drafts I do and how much I change things? If I didn’t have a computer, I don’t think I’d write, it would just be too damn hard. (Pat Gaffney and Krissie both write drafts in longhand; I cannot comprehend that.).
I couldn’t wait to get to the paper edit of this act because I really, really, really wanted to read it for the first time. I did manage to do another major cut before I printed it out, taking it from 41,000 to 35,000, but one of the many great things about a paper edit is that I find a lot more places to cut. Red ink everywhere. Tags showing me how often a motif is repeated. Notes about what to work throughout the act. Notes about the rest of the book. Stains from tea and Diet Coke. Dog hair. It’s all in there.
And then all those changes went back into the computer; I’m not insane. But when I get the other three acts done, I’ll do another paper edit. It’s the only way to really see the book. (Yes, Pam, I’m saving them for you.)
Did you want to read it? . .I’d think you’d be sick of it by now, but if not, here it is.