Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Typewriter Technique

Psst. Over here.

A little closer ... C'mon, scoot in a little closer....

I wanted to tell you, I'm trying something new with my WiP.

It's an editing technique I've never tried before.

I discovered it because I rewrote my first chapter in a different document. Then I pulled up the document with my critique partner's comments in it and laid the documents out side by side on the screen.

Now I'm retyping the whole book from the old document into the new document.

I feel a little bit like I'm using a typewriter, because I'm not using the cut-and-paste function.

I'm retyping.

Editing as I go.

It's amazing how many unnecessary words are going away. It's easier to hack them out when I don't have to dive into the text and delete them. And if I feel like rewriting a whole scene, it's less painful.

I'm calling this my Typewriter Technique. I'm about 12,000-words into my 65,000-word novel. I'll let you know how it goes....

Slow and painful, yes. But so far I like the results.

Has anyone else tried this?

(And why am I whispering? Maybe because I'm wondering if the Typewriter Technique is editing's best kept secret.)


  1. I think it's a great technique (although I've haven't tried it yet). In fact, I recently read a blog post in which someone else was talking about this exact same technique. (Kelly, maybe? I can't remember for sure.)

    Anyway, good luck with your edits, Amy. It does seem like it would be easier to take a word out when you're retyping it than deleting it when it's already there on the page.

  2. Yes this is how I write. It gets me down and dirty with the manuscript instead of the nice clean and tidy cut and paste. And sometimes if necessary I get really into it by writing an entire draft by hand. I have to be pretty desperate to do that but it's another brilliant technique for helping me "see" my writing.

  3. Mark Childress does this, I don't, except for really troublesome parts. But the step I would never leave out is reading the book aloud.

  4. Good luck with the edits! It's always interesting to hear about the different methods. :)

  5. Great idea! I did something similar with my nonfiction book and it was a great editing technique. I can't wait to read your WIP someday when it is a FW (finished work). : )

  6. Krista didn't hear about this from me. It sounds like a very thorough job, but I'm content to edit about fifty times instead of doing one or two long jobs. I like to mark up paper copies, then change it in the computer.
    Good luck! I might try this on my next book, after the first draft.

  7. I used to do this with my class notes!
    I know this is not the same thing, but for the children with disabilities who I teach, it's really important to cut out unnecessary words, and use the simplest word that will not compormise the meaning. In other words, re-write the textbook.
    And your technique is how I've edited my versions down, pared to the minimum!

    BTW, there's a giveaway over at mine that you might like!

  8. sorry, that should have read "compromise"

  9. Nice technique. I just discovered that editing pages backwards keeps your mind active enough to spot the no-no words.

  10. very interesting and clever, too. I've not done this but I like it :)

  11. Love how you start this blog...
    I've not tried this technique, but I'm going to give it a try once I'm in the editing stages..

  12. That's a cool way of editing! I've never done it as thoroughly as you but I have in bits and pieces.

  13. I've not heard of this technique before, but it sounds helpful...Happy typing, Amy!

  14. Good, I'm glad this sounds interesting to several of you! Yay! I often wonder if my tips are stupid, especially these ones I come up with by myself. :)

    It's nice to know this is a tried and true method with some published authors. Very encouraging, especially as I stretch my tired fingers.

    Thanks for all the comments!



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