Monday, January 19, 2015

The Bonus

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Today the blog is aptly named. I have been "writing" my life away. A few weeks ago, after some ribbing from my writing group, I made up my mind I was going to finish one story.

I had three to choose from that were near completion but after examining them, I selected  The Long Summer Run, my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel. I worked on it again in the 2013 July Camp session and nearly completed the story arc then. I continued to work on it, even setting it up in a closed blog.

I haven't touched the story much in the last year and I decided that before I started writing again, I needed to read through the whole story just to refresh my memory.

It occurred to me that while I was doing that it would be foolish not make notes where I found problems such as errors in spelling, usage, and just bad writing. I use Scrivener for all my writing and it has notes sections but I'm one of those people who still likes editing a paper copy. So, I printed off everything I'd written to-date, which was right at 200 pages (60K words). One look at that stack and I immediately felt stressed. This is the part I really hate.

When I was in college I loved editing my friends work. I don't know why. Rereading my work was a pain because invariable, once I know the story I just don't want to do it again. Part of the problem is that when you read your own work you miss a lot of errors. Your mind simply switches on auto-correct and sends you on your way. You really don't "see" certain types of errors.

Then I remembered the Adobe "Read Aloud" feature. If you didn't know Adobe had that feature, I'm not surprised. There is really no reason to use it if you're not visually challenged. However, in the past I found it was a great way to edit a variety of documents. When I had a real job I used it for long letters or training manuals I created for work. I realized that there was no reason it couldn't work just as well for editing a very long piece, like a novel, too.

So, I used OpenOffice to set TLSR up as a PDF and opened it in Adobe. I turned on Adobe's "Read Aloud" feature. Adobe's Robot voice read the story to me and even though I've used it before, I was surprised at how much it helped.

I was able to refresh my memory about what was happening in the story while focusing on problems. I found it much easier to spot commonly misspelled words and those misspelled by my own quirky typing. I located stray clauses and phrases. I also recognized problems with continuity. And oh, the plot holes I found.

While Adobe Robey (my nickname for the female voice) read to me, I made notes in the margins, corrected errors with my pen, and stopped when something occurred to me that required longer notes. These I typed into my project notes in Scrivener.

Today I will finish my review and I hope, start making the corrections, write in the ending, and fill in the plot holes. I have to say I'm a bit excited. This is as close to a whole first draft I've ever had and now I'm sort of pumped to get it completed.

This is a story I really didn't like in 2012. I liked it better after Camp NaNo but today, after rereading the whole story, I realize that it is a really good story and I love it. I love the characters and will probably use some of them in another story.

Some days writing is a bust. Some days, writing your life away is worth it.



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