Using The Rainbow Editing Method [Editing]

We all know that I’m not the best at self-editing. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I tend to end up proofreading rather than editing. I know what I want to fix but can’t figure out how to fix it. So I skip it to “deal with it later.” And that’s not good for any writer and their novel.

I’ve decided to give myself a good kick and really make 2018 count. No more “prep” for this or that and then never following through. I like to think I’m a hard worker, but I’m pretty slow. I think I’m ready at this point to finally do something about my writing and I think it shows in my editing.

Using The Rainbow Editing Method |

A few months ago I talked about Rainbow Editing your manuscript. It’s all about using various colors for different parts of your novel. For example, I use the colors in the following way:

Red – Typos, spelling, grammar
Orange – Dialogue, description, pacing, tenses, etc.
Green – Plot changes
Blue – Character development
Purple – Research and fact-checking
Pink – Overall structure, vocabulary/word replacement, etc.

I started using this method to edit The Scribe this month and I can’t express how impressed I am that it’s working for me.

Instead of losing steam after 10 pages, I edited over 60 in one sitting. Which, admittedly, is a big deal for me. My manuscript is marked up with mostly orange, green, and blue with a little red, purple, and pink sprinkled in. I’m cutting probably about 75% of the story, so the majority of the pages are filled with a giant green X.

I think this method helps me focus on one thing at a time rather than looking at the whole picture and getting overwhelmed. And no, I don’t go through a chapter six times in a row for each individual color, I look at each page, each paragraph, and think to myself, “what’s not working here?”

After I mark up a paragraph or a few with green and/or orange, I look back at it making sure the character development makes sense, that the paragraph should be in that spot, etc.

It’s hard to explain, but it actually works and I have to say I’m impressed.

It’s a slow process, but it definitely helps. The pages of my manuscript are so colorful and maybe I just get easily distracted by pretty things that it’s holding my attention more: “How much color can I splash on this page?”

In all seriousness, I have to rewrite more than half of this story, which I’m in the process of. So… it’s going.

I still have about two weeks to finish the rewrite and give it another good edit. I still plan on publishing the story onto Wattpad in January. So, wish me luck!

Are you editing your NaNoWriMo novel right now? Do you try different editing methods or tend to stick with a certain way? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

33 thoughts on “Using The Rainbow Editing Method [Editing]

  1. Good luck! I’ve heard a lot about this method and many of it good things. I’ve even debated doing it myself. The only reason I haven’t is because I do most of my editing away from home and it can be cumbersome to carry around all those pens/markers/etc or even just switching back and forth in small spaces.

    • I know what you mean. My cat had a field day with me having so many pens out at once. I think I was up and chasing him to get my pens back more than I was editing, lol.

  2. What a clever idea, Rachel! I’d definitely like to try this method with the “sticky note” comments in Scrivener; my novel draft will probably turn out rainbow-colored too! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Have always used different coloured highlighters and pens – though I tend to stick to red pen for writing in alterations. But I must also sing the praises of different coloured ‘post it’ notes. I allocate a colour to each major character, sticking them at the edge of the page so they stick out. Once you’ve marked each character’s activity (or a sub plot etc) you can then go through the MS looking at just that character checking they don’t contradict themselves and they are where they are supposed to be.- my MS ends up looking like a multi-coloured porcupine. And that’s just the 1st draft. I’ll repeat it until it is right.

  4. I love this idea. I’ll think about trying it on my work in progress. Working on a Word doc — definitely a copy — rather than a printout, one could use highlighting and coloured text. In fact, I already do that to a certain extent — purple text with notes like IS THIS LOGICAL? or CHECK THIS!

  5. I know a lot of people like this method, was popular back in my uni days… I never used, what I like to do, for anyone who cares, maybe it’ll have some value, is this: once first draft is complete (including an initial rough edit) I will print and read, make hand notes on the document, mostly prose stuff rather than grammar or spelling, then make changes to the document, then print again, this time focused on proofing. Usually, I find, I have a half decent second draft by the end of that process. I think it’s also good practice to have another project to write while you edit an earlier piece, but that’s something I’ve been failing with lately so…

    • I know what you mean. I’ve printed mine out and did almost the same thing. I barely used my red pen at all for the proofing and typos and such. I’m working on rewriting the novel now while I prep to edit another novel.
      Thanks for your input. 🙂

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