How I Tackle Revisions: Reading in a Different Format

There comes a point in the revision process where you can’t look at your document another minute because it all starts to blur together. I’ve found that the best way to pull the words out of the fog is to look at the manuscript a new way. Here are some ideas on how to read your manuscript in a different format.

Read it in a different program.

  • Send it to your e-reader. It’s amazing what reading your words in a simulated final version can help you see.
  • Do you write in Scrivener like me? Export it to Word. Seeing it with actual page numbers can make a huge difference.

Change the font or formatting.

I sat in on a workshop last year where the author said she always increases the font size and changes the margins to get a different perspective. She swears by it.

Print it out.

It might seem wasteful in this day and age (especially with Earth Day yesterday), but I know several writers who need to hold the manuscript in their hands to put things in perspective. Just remember to recycle when you’re finished!

Read it aloud.

I wrote a whole post on the benefits of reading aloud last year, but one of the reasons it works is because you’re hearing your words in addition to seeing them. Basically you’re turning it into an audio book, which is really another format, right?

Read it backwards.

Start with the last chapter and go backwards. I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on my to-do list. I think it would help take you out of the forward momentum of the story and focus on the individual scenes.

Read each point of view from start to finish.

This doesn’t apply to my current manuscript, but I used alternating points of view in my last project, and it was amazing how much reading only one point of view helped me isolate the voice and continuity for that character. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I suspect even with a single POV you could do something similar by reading only the scenes with a particular secondary character to check for the same issues.

What other methods have you used to help you get a new perspective as you revise? I’d love to add more ideas to this list!

Other How I Tackle Revisions posts:


Responses to “How I Tackle Revisions: Reading in a Different Format”

  1. Carla Cullen

    These are great suggestions! I’m a huge fan of printing out pages (sorry, trees!) and reading them away from my normal writing space. I take pages to coffeehouses, libraries, and parks. I’ve been seen on the sidelines of my son’s soccer games, reading while the team warms up (not during actual games!). Something about the printed page makes it easier for me to spot flaws in the story.

  2. Georgina Cromarty

    I use scrivner to write and always edit / review on my kindle 🙂 works like a treat. Also think sometimes you just need to move away for a time and no amount of format change can help if you have reached saturation.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)