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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