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 | RachelPoli.com

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!
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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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