Incorporating Redlines, or, How I Want to Punch Myself in the Face



Did I mention that I also did some editing during my Technical Writer career? This is an advantage when it comes to reading my manuscript and looking for

  • plot discrepancies,
  • thin chapters,
  • flow issues,
  • grammar usage,
  • unnecessary and overly-repeated words, and
  • good ol’ spelling mistakes.

My beta-reader draft is underway, but these redlines, oh, the redlines! I know, I know, I’ll face worse when a professional book editor looks at the work, but somehow I can handle other people’s feedback more easily. That’s probably because of my experience in high-tech. Sending stuff to editing was just part of the process.

The first thing that struck me during my self-editing phase was how large 120 000 words looks like when printed. I sorta made that Scoopy-Doo inquisitive sound. Because technology is so sophisticated these days, I haven’t had to print the book until last month. I listened to it on my phone while updating the manuscript my Chromebook, or just read it on iBooks, and made annotations. It seemed like a benevolent wee story. Then I printed it out and had to breathe into a paper bag. Out came my red pen and I went to town!

My protagonist, Virj, is also a writer who really wants to be published. Unfortunately, he’s not that good yet. My goal is to be better than him. (Sorry, Virjie.) I guess I’m tough on myself, but that’s only because I want to do my best to relay the story that I want to tell. Hence the redlines, and more redlines, OH, THE REDLINES!

One surprising motivator to get this editing done has been my Ma. I know, right? I sent her the first three chapters and she keeps asking me for more pages every time we speak on the phone. I think this is good training for meeting deadlines. Also, I’ve left my friend Jeremie hanging. They’ve only read until chapter 17 of the ugly first draft. I can’t let Jeremie down!

The biggest reason I want to get this draft out is because I really like the diverse group of people I have chosen as beta readers, and their feedback will really be invaluable to me. I can’t wait to hear their constructive criticism and insights. So, on I go, incorporating all those redlines.

But OH, the redlines!

I dream in red ink these days, I swear.


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer in high tech and government organizations. She is currently a Web Developer consultant for Dynamic Canvas Inc., and assistant to the Executive Director at H’Art of Ottawa. She also enjoys her crafting business, Cait Cards.

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