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April 4, 2013

Hard Copies Aren’t Going Out of Style

It’s yet to be seen whether my current manuscript will be published, but we’re getting darn close to finding out. I’m on what I hope to be the very last stage of editing (we’ll get to why I think this is the last round another day). Last stage though it is, it’s also a first: the first time I’ve printed out the manuscript in full.


My manuscript is 80,000 words, or just over 300 pages, and my printer is not the most accommodating piece of machinery on the planet. Printing it was a commitment in terms of paper, ink, and patience. (Next time I’ll spend $25 and have the local copy shop handle it.) But having the pages in my hands, secured in the biggest binder clips I could find, feels incredible.


It’s also downright incredible how many corrections I’m making—how much I didn’t notice in the last however many read-throughs on the computer. When the manuscript is on the screen, it’s all too easy to scroll down and gloss over sections I’ve seen a million times. On paper, it’s a lot harder to miss things like using the same word twice in as many pages, or how similar my sentence structure is in dialogue attributions. At various points, I favor different phrases (this might be why). A recent reorganization means some sections are culled from a couple of edits, and there are repetitions that need to go.


I’m convinced that holding the pages in my hand is the only way I’d ever see these things, and that this step is invaluable in making a good impression on the editors who will see my work in the next couple of weeks.


I’ve tried to read the manuscript out loud, both to myself and to my husband. After a couple of pages, either I end up muttering and then reading silently again or my husband falls asleep (because we have two little kids, and that’s where we are in life right now). The Track Changes and Find features on Word are fantastic, and they have helped me a great deal in my writing. But at this point, seeing my words on a physical page is the closest I can get to seeing them as an editor will see them. And for me, at least, there’s simply no substitute.

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