Posted in Editing

Rainbow Editing

I haven’t touched my mystery novel in a long time. I wrote the original first draft for NaNoWriMo in November 2013. Since then, it’s changed a lot. I submitted it to my writer’s group and we all mutually agreed that the main character should not have been the POV character.

I rewrote the whole thing.

In 2015, my goal was to have the full manuscript completed by the end of the year. That didn’t happen, so my new goal was the end of the year in 2016.

The last time I worked on the draft was the summer of 2016. I began my edits, got about 60 pages in, and stopped. My “edits” started to be solely searching for typos. I was reading the story, not editing the book. I got frustrated, not knowing where to start and how to continue, so I stopped with every intention of going back to it a few weeks later.

Then Camp NaNo July 2016 happened and I never went back to my mystery novel.

Now that it’s 2017, my new goal was, (surprise), to finish the manuscript by the end of the year. I have a new plan and a new schedule. I also did some research on editing and I learned a lot. So I think it will work this time.

No one said editing had to be boring. No one said it had to be a chore. It’s a lot of work and brainpower, yes, but I’ve found a way to make editing a little more fun and interesting for myself while staying organized and continue to pay attention.

Rainbow Editing | Editing Your Novel

If you’re easily distracted by shiny and pretty things, like me, then this may be a fun way to edit your manuscript.

When you think of editing, you think of having a red pen in hand, right? Me, too. When you think of writing, you think of blue or black ink, right? If you’re typing it on the computer, it’s black ink.

Editing is hard enough, but when I started editing my novel again this month I decided to use the same draft I was working on last summer so I could save a tree.

The first 10 pages or so are really marked up and then I lost steam. Up until page 60 or so, there are small red marks here and there, but that’s it.

I decided not to use red so I wouldn’t get the last edits and the current edits mixed up. Since I started, two of my pens had run out of ink so I ended up having four different colors on one page.

It’s pretty if I do say so myself.

That’s when I thought of rainbow editing. This is an actual method teachers use to get their students (mostly elementary and middle grade) to self-edit their essays. Each color represents something different: spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.

But why don’t I do that? I have various colored pens that I never use and it will help me stay organized in my thoughts as I write, edit, and rewrite. So, that’s just what I decided to do…

Red – general typos, spelling, grammar, etc.
Green – Plot changes
Light Green – Dialogue, description, pacing, tenses, etc.
Blue – Character development
Purple – Research, fact-check
Pink – Overall structure, switching sentences and paragraphs around, vocabulary, word replacement, etc.

It definitely looks a bit much, but if you make a “legend” and can remember which color represents what, it helps to zero in on one thing at a time.

I didn’t think of this idea until after I started editing this draft, but it will definitely be used in the future.

Do you rainbow edit or have a similar editing method? Let me know in the comments below!

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

31 thoughts on “Rainbow Editing

    1. It does, I know, lol. I’m not trying it for my current draft, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea. It may or may not work.
      Thanks. 🙂

  1. I like your idea of the rainbow colours! Great idea. Hopefully I will get to editing my current WIP towards the end of the year, fingers crossed, and I will give this a go 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like it could work for some people. I have students who use this colour method to study and revise, but I can’t imagine working with so many colours all over the page myself.

    1. Everyone has different methods. I haven’t tried this myself, but I have used different colors to represent something big or small to look back on later.

  3. I focus on different elements with each revision pass.

    Rough draft is pure crap. Draft 2 fixes major plot and character problems. Draft 3 is description, blocking, and dialogue. Draft 4 focuses on Alpha reader feedback. Draft 5 focuses on cutting and prose. Draft 6 is Beta reader feedback. Draft 7 is emotional strength. Draft 8 is proofreading. After draft 8 it goes to the editor.

    I find trying to do everything at once is overwhelming and I end up doing everything poorly. Focusing on a few elements let’s me really dive into them.

    1. That’s a good way of doing. I’m trying to do that now, but I do find myself taking notes on other things. That’s where the different colors come in so I don’t forget. 🙂

    1. It may be a lot of work and get confusing sometimes, but I do think the vivid colors can sort of trick your mind into having fun with it and staying alert. Good luck. 🙂

  4. I’ve nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award, I have found your posts practical, insightful and inspiring towards my goal of writing a novel. If you would like to accept the nomination, pop along to my blog to read the rules. Keep up the great work 🙂 Amy

  5. I don’t do this type of editing, but I’ve heard of similar. Mostly, the highlighters were various colors with meanings and a red pen was used to make changes to the things noted in color.

  6. I have an incomplete draft that’s rusting away since ages. If I ever complete it (will probably rewrite it), I’m going to use this method for sure​ because I’m one of those people easily distracted by pretty things. 😂

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