top of page

An Exercise for Editing

Don't deny it. Sometimes old school is just plain better. Think of all those old school things out there... Vanilla Ice, sock'em boppers, beanie babies... okay so maybe that's not old school for everyone, but as a child of the nineties, it is for me. That's beside the point though. This week, I've been editing the work in progress, and decided to turn to a slightly more unorthodox method of cut and paste.

Not the ctrl + V type... the actual scissors and scotch tape type. Why might you ask, would I be so foolish as to cover my Dining Room table with endless scraps of paper instead of just using my shiny desktop? Well, for one thing, we never actually eat at the dining room table, so someone should use it for something. The thing takes up half our living room. The other reason would be that I really can't spread out on a computer screen as much as I'd like. Here's the situation: I have three versions of the second-to-last chapter in my novel... and none of them are really what I want them to be.


So my solution to this problem, is to print them out, cut them to smithereens and somehow cobble them back together with scotch tape.  I feel like I get more of a bird's eye view of chapter, than if I had cut and paste from word or Scrivner. In case you're interested in trying this out, here are some things I figured out while undertaking this experiment.


1. It helps to cut chapters into scenes first. Then you can evaluate the scenes individually.

2. Only like part of the scene? Cut it out and discard the rest. For me, it helped to go from a wider lens to closer inspection.

3. You will need an entire roll of Scotch tape. At least I did. Through taping scenes together, and piecing together the often small bits that I thought I could selvage, I used more tape than I do to wrap my husband's Christmas presents.

4. Don't start taping it all willy nilly like.... lay it all out. Here comes the advantage of the old fashioned cut and paste method. Lay out the chapter the way you think you want it, and start moving around the pieces. This way, you can see all the possibilities in front of you, before you tape it down.

5. Don't shy away from rewrites. If it's really not working, there may be a reason. You may just need to start from scratch and rewrite the entire thing.

bottom of page