April 12, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2010

Revisions: To re-key or not to re-key

How am I staying sane during this season of SnOMG? Since the kids have no activities and I can't teach (central MD schools are closed through Tuesday), I have time to revise.

Here's the big revision question: Are you a re-keyer?

Re-keying a manuscript seems counter-intuitive. Easy revisions -- that's what makes computers so great, right? Here are some cons -- and pros -- of re-keying a manuscript when you revise.

  • Your critique group will look at you like you just said, "Twilight wasn't all that great," because you'd have to slightly touched to make all that work for yourself.
  • It is work. Work takes time. Which leads to...
  • Re-keying is slow. You won't get your manuscript revised in a flash.
  • Typos. You cleaned them all up in the last draft. If you re-key, you'll have to proofread again. Carefully.

Pros (There's really just one, but let's break it down.)

  • Re-keying forces you to consider every word in your book.
  • There are places your eye glosses over when you're reading, carried along by the story. That's good, if you're a reader. Not if you're an author. Re-keying slows you down and reveals lazy spots in your writing.
  • Re-keying puts you back in that magic place of creating, rather than the shuffling of cut, paste, and delete. This opens up discoveries. Doors open in the story, in the characters, that weren't there before. If you were rushing down the hallway to get to your destination, you might have missed that small door that opens onto a garden.
The funny thing is -- I rarely re-key poetry manuscripts. When I've got the poetry thing going on, I'm already looking at each word, making sure it's earning its keep. But for prose pieces, re-keying at least once during the revision process is, well... key.

Re-keyers, speak up. If you re-key your manuscripts, tell us why the technique works for you.

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