Cut Me, Paste Me

Today, I got back to doing some actual work on my current project. I’m in the middle of my second full draft for the book, and unlike my previous drafts where I tore the whole story down and started from scratch [and then didn’t finish], this one is mostly rewriting. I call it a cut and paste draft. In it, I take the old version and copy it paragraph by paragraph into a new document, rewriting as I go.

This has been working amazingly well.

Previously, after reading through a draft, I would go through and change the font color on problem spots until it looked like someone had spilled red and orange ink on my computer screen. This didn’t work for numerous reason, the main problem being, it allowed me to skim my work, not actually read it.

With the cut and paste draft, I’m forced to read every line. And editing a paragraph at a time is much less intimidating than editing a whole 180 page document. It also, it gives me the space to really expand passages where I glossed over certain scenes because I wrote the original during Nanowrimo and didn’t have the time to figure out what exactly should go there. In fact, in my old draft, I’m 70 pages in, while at the same place in the plot in my new draft, I’m at page 121. Part of that is format adjustment, but today I was further expanding on a section that was a paragraph long in the original draft. So far, I’ve gotten it to 6 pages, and I’m not done yet. Which shows you how lazy I was writing that section.

So to sum up, the cut and paste method is good for:

  • Picking out little errors [spelling, grammar, continuity]
  • Finding weak wording and redundancy
  • Actually reading your work
  • Giving you space to expand certain passages
  • Keeping your editing manageable

One last tip with this method, only listen to music when doing extensive expansion from scratch. Leaving the music off during editing helps you concentrate on the words you’re reading rather than splitting your attention between them and the words you’re hearing.

Editing Scissors by Katta Hules
Editing Scissors by Katta Hules.

4 thoughts on “Cut Me, Paste Me

Add yours

  1. One way I’ve found to deal with the issue of being distracted by lyrics is to just put together a playlist comprised entirely of songs without them. That way, you get the benefits of listening to music, without split attention from the spoken/written word confusion.


    1. That’s a good solution as well! Sometimes though, I find for editing, silence and concentration is best. It depends on how closely you need to focus on the words, say for poetry or convoluted passages, when silence may be best versus if you’re editing more for concepts and feel. Even so, it is best to reread your work at least once with no outside influences because readers won’t be listening to the music you’re listening to and I find that can change how you view the piece entirely.


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