Wednesday, March 6, 2013

3 Reasons to Edit by Hand

I have edited sixty pages of my novel by hand over the past few weeks. After three rounds of editing on my computer, two by myself and one by a friend, I had not expected to change so many things during the hand edit.

I printed out all 231 pages with the expectation that I would read through it like I would any other book, making sure I had filled any plot holes. That was my objective. I sat down at my desk, tea to one side, red pen in hand. One minute later I was making marks on the paper, rewording sentences, choosing better words to convey better emotion, all that fun, good stuff. In essence, prime objective was laid aside and I set to tweaking my novel to increase the readability.

I am becoming a huge fan of editing by hand. Here are three good reasons to edit by hand:

1. There are less distractions. (practically none)

Think about it. When you are editing on your computer there are a host of distractions, because editing is not really a super exciting or engaging process. One distraction is the internet and all those marvelously addicting websites out there. Another distraction is writing. Oh, yes, I did say it. Writing will distract you from editing. For myself I have at least three word documents open at a time on my computer at all times. If I grow tired of editing all I need do is hit alt+tab and immerse myself in another writing process. When editing by hand, there is only you and your manuscript. When editing by hand, there is no internet constantly calling and no other projects that beg for your creative attention.

2. It is easier to notice parts that do not flow well.

Have you ever been reading a well-written passage in a book and that feeling is just right with what is going on, then one phrase, perhaps even one word, does not fit, therefore shattering the mood? Editing by hand permits you to catch these sort of things because your mind is used to finding them in text on paper, but not in text on a computer screen. Most of the changes I have made while editing by hand concern flow.

3. It assists in making realistic dialogue.

Last night while editing I came upon a section of dialogue and started reading it out loud without even thinking. It then occurred to me that I had been doing that since I began. Reading dialogue out loud helps with editing it because real dialogue, therefore realistic dialogue, is audible. I think that when editing a manuscript by hand a person is more likely to read everything out loud, murmur or full-voiced, which assists particularly with dialogue as explained above.

So the three reasons to edit by hand are:
1. There are less distractions.
2. It is easier to notice parts that do not flow well.
3. It assists in making realistic dialogue.

I am sure there are more reasons. If I find more while I continue my hand editing process I will update you all on what they are. I encourage you all to try editing by hand if you do not already. It really is quite helpful.

Joshua A. Spotts


  1. Do you have an estimation on when your book will be done? I need to get a copy when it comes out...

    1. The editing process will be finished within a few months at most, but I cannot say when it will be published. I hope publication will be soon.


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