Put the pen down…

FOREWORD: This is a post I actually saved as a draft on my phone more than half a year ago, but never got around to posting. I was expecting the arrival of my daughter at the time, and had just finished the second re-write of my story…


Red line editing

Seems the best course of action when you’ve just printed out some two hundred and thirty double sided A4 pages of manuscript is to just read through them. Sure, you can make a few brief red pen notes here and there, but really you just want to zip through it like a reader might, getting a feel for flow, plot consistency, etc.

I can’t put the damn pen down. I just can’t. I’ve spent all evening to get through the first hundred pages, because I’m editing with a comb that started out like splayed fingers, but is now so fine-toothed that light itself couldn’t escape.

Tomorrow I’m going to allow myself ONE comment per page. Try to wean myself off the red pen madness.

Do you ever struggle to just READ your own stuff?

In other news, baby clothes are tiny and awesome. Who knew?

Baby clothes

Best regards,


POST-SCRIPT: These massive slabs of notes are still sitting on my shelf, and only 40% of the edits have yet been incorporated… It’s slow going, but I’ve got to keep-at-it if this book-baby’s ever going to get born!

About D.R.Sylvester

A Clinical Research Associate by day (google it), writer by night, D.R.Sylvester lives in Sydney, Australia with his patissiere wife and Siberian Wolf. His interests include travel, music (predominantly Metal), reading, & archery.
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6 Responses to Put the pen down…

  1. Rhodes says:

    I tried to remedy this by using an orange pen once. I thought maybe it’d be less of an eyesore. All I got were pages covered in orange ink.

  2. Sometimes I get caught up in what I’m reading and forget that I’m supposed to be fixing commas and stuff. (I edit my brother’s novels.) Sometimes I go looking for a specific scene, but then I keep reading… and reading… Sometimes, though, when I’m reading a book I bought, I forget that I’m not supposed to notice any bad punctuation or factual errors. It is very hard for me to separate my editor-brain from my reader-brain.

    • That might be kind of good though, in a way, because the overall impression of the story and its pacing is more important than the spelling and punctuation.

      Woah hang on a second, let me clarify that last statement: grammar, spelling and punctuation are THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS in the entire universe (or at least running equal first with solving world peace and hunger) BUT! Fixing all that stuff in a chapter or scene that you then go on to cut entirely due to bigger story issues…

      *sad violins playing*

  3. Millie Ho says:

    I hear ya! Been struggling with the compulsion to edit my manuscript(s) into a bloody pulp since I became serious about the writing a book thing. My method nowadays is to pretend I’m editing somebody else’s work: I definitely would NOT be defacing it so violently. Looking at the manuscript via a third party’s eyes helps immensely. At least there’s a criticism filter now, and the more this is done, the easier it gets with time.

    • Brilliant! I can see this working, because when I look at my own work I tend to view it as just that: my own. By natural extension I feel entitled to go crazy with the big red pen.

      When I’m looking at someone else’s work I’m much more reserved, figuring that many things might be stylistic rather than necessarily bad. I only go after inconsistencies, pacing, that kind of junk, rather than hacking everything into salsa sized chunks.

      That said, the red pen is not an easy beast to tame…

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