24 May, 2011

Kindle Is a Surprisingly Good Book Editing Tool

Where have I been? Mostly finishing off the book known alternately as The French Mummy Project, Les Maudites, and That ?!!@# Novel I Need to Finish. I'm proud to say I typed "LE FIN" to the first draft last week.

This means I can now switch to my other work in progress, the adventure Saint Mark's Body.  A few months back I sent it to Writer's Workshop for a look, and they gave it to editor Emma Darwin (who, by the way, has her own blog called This Itch of Writing and you should follow it).  I got some very helpful edits back, just a few weeks before finishing That Other Book, and am now working through those.

In this I have an unexpected ally: my Kindle.  A while ago I ported Saint Mark's Body to the device, part so I could read it and...I admit...part so the Kindle could read it to me. (It's nice sometimes to hear another voice  read your book aloud, even if that voice is nonhuman and has no tonality or cadence.)  And so I began the editing process by re-reading Saint Mark's Body.  I needed to re-establish my voice for that book; ninth century Venetians talk quite differently from a 19th century Frenchman writing his memoir in English. Also I had to shift gears back from first to third person.

But no author is capable of reading his work without making changes.  In my case, I've written another book since I last looked at Saint Mark's Body, so I've learned a bit and I am making a lot of them.

And here's where I find that Kindle Is a Surprisingly Good book Editing Tool.  No, I can't make changes in the text--even if the software allowed it the keyboard is impossible. At this stage in the editing I don't want to do that anyway. I want to read it through and simply mark the spots to change later. So I'm making liberal use of the Highlights and Notes features. Most of the time I simply highlight a section and know I need to delete or change it later, and the change is obvious enough I'm pretty sure I'll know what to do. If not, I can type a note on the keyboard and it will stay embedded in the text.  All Highlights and Notes are indexed and will be easy to go through quickly when I'm done--then with Kindle next to PC I can make all the changes I highlighted, along with the editorial suggestions from Writer's Workshop. 

Using Kindle instead of PC at this stage has a couple of big advantage.  First of course is portability--Kindle goes anywhere.  I can edit lying down in bed, I don't have to deal with a PC or reams of paper. Second, at this stage I don't want to be changing the text--just making the note and moving on--and that's all Kindle lets me do.

And, if I get really down, I can turn on the reader and listen to that sweet, robot voice read my book.