Friday, June 29, 2007

Writing Tools

I used to do three drafts. The first was handwritten and pretty rough. I would type it up and make changes as I typed, then revise with a pen. I would then type a clean version from the written all over second draft, making more changes. This second, clean typed version was the final draft.

I got my first computer in the late 80s to finish A Woman of the Iron People. It was the longest novel I have ever written, 750 pages in manuscript; and I could not imagine typing it twice.

I am not a good typist or a fast typist, and I do not like typing.

I've changed my writing method since then. I do some writing with pen, but most of my writing is now on a computer. My first drafts are largely done on the computer. When I go back to a story in progress, I often revise the last page or two on the computer, before adding new text. I still print out stories and revise with a pen, then input the changes to the computer. Thank the Goddess I don't have to type a complete clean version, after making minor changes.

I'm not sure how many drafts I do now, since they tend to merge. Two? Two and a half?

Because I don't have to worry about errors, and because the touch of a computer keyboard is so much lighter than any typewriter, I don't mind inputting as much as I minded typing.

I simply type as fast as I can, then run spellcheck. I notice that I make most of my spelling errors on words that spellcheck will catch. I don't often misspell my aliens' names, for example.

Of course, I have to read over for the errors that spellcheck doesn't catch: 'of' instead of 'to.' Since I have trouble seeing errors on the computer screen, I tend to print out a copy to proofread, and that gives me a chance to make final revisions with a pen.

I'm starting to revise/rewrite the sequel to Ring of Swords, which has existed since 1994. Until recently, I was not able to sell it. Aqueduct Press is now going to publish it. I've decided to use a mechanical pencil and erasers this time, to reduce the mess. Revising on the computer is not an option, since I can't find the e-files for the novel. My choices are to input page after weary page, to scan page after weary page on my home scanner, or cough up the money to have Kinko's do the scanning. I'll probably start by scanning on my home machine, then switch to Kinko's when I get fed up.

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