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Friday, March 16, 2012

Scrivener #4 - Editing My Manuscript

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts based on my experience with Scrivener - A Swiss Army Knife of a tool for writers. The previous post can be found HERE. The complete series can be found HERE.

At the end of the last blog post I had successfully imported and split up my first two Xannu books (each 125,000 words long) into chapters, and re-edited them as best I could. This blog post is concerned with book 3 of the series.

To give a little background, book 3 (Xannu - The Portal) was originally written about a year ago and has sat waiting for me to re-visit it and perform the first edit. And actually, editing this manuscript was one of the reasons that prompted me to get Scrivener in the first place.

Why? I didn't want to be wading through a 125,000 word document yet again, cutting and pasting sections from place to place as I decided to move pieces around. I also wanted to be able to look at my chapter word counts on the fly and make sure they were more or less consistent. Neither of these things are easy in Word. Finally, I wanted to be able to take a quick look at the character plot lines and character flows to make sure they were spread properly throughout the manuscript. Scrivener is excellent at all of these things.

Of course, the first task was to get the manuscript into scrivener. This time I took a different approach to the previous books and started by going back to my original outline document and creating index cards (scenes) in Scrivener, one for each scene. That resulted in over 200 blank cards created. Then I imported my manuscript and copy and pasted each scene to its relevant index card. There were a few differences as already the first draft had a few extra scenes than my outline and there were a few scenes I never actually wrote. But, a few hours later and I was done.

Now it was time to actually edit the manuscript. Starting at Chapter One, I clicked on the chapter and opened it in the main window in scrivenings mode (see below). Then I went through each chapter scene by scene and attached character POVs and listed all the characters that were in each scene. In parallel I performed the first edit on the actual scene itself. I'll be truthful here. This is a long process. And so it should be. This is one of the most important jobs in performing your first edit. Be thorough. Be ruthless. Eek out every mistake and eradicate it. This is not a job for the lazy.

But, the good news is, that for the first time ever I am actually getting enormous benefits from a program while doing my editing. Scrivener makes it really easy to spot things and change things. Assigning a POV to a scene instantly allows me to see where I've wandered unintentionally into someone else's mind mid-scene. Now it's easy to correct. Also, I can see at a glance (using the outline mode - see picture below) how my word counts per chapter stack up. I can easily drag and drop scenes from one chapter to another and make minor adjustments.

Oh, I could go on and on! But the bottom line is that I have more than paid for the cost of Scrivener during the course of this single manuscript edit. It's wonderful!

Oh, and I know you all want a lot more detail on this subject and many others, and over the course of the next few months, you'll get it. But for now you'll have to excuse me as I continue to edit my manuscript, all the time trying to keep to a very tight deadline.

Thanks for bearing with me!

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