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Revising with an e-reader

Posted: September 7th, 2010, 6:51 pm
by bgannon
This weekend I discovered that e-readers have an unexpected benefit. I think mine just became a centerpiece of my revision process.

Years ago I went to school for stage acting and one of the things we had to get a handle on was keeping our delivery "fresh", even though we were speaking the same lines for weeks at a time. Our teachers would encourage us to rehearse our lines in unfamiliar ways and unfamiliar contexts, to force ourselves out of our rut. One urged us to practice while on the treadmill at the gym because it would force us to breathe and speak differently. The idea is that you'll "find something new" you can incorporate into your performance.

Ever come across a glaring error in your MS that survived several rounds of editing? I am perpetually dismayed at how easy it is to overlook poor word choice, repetition and grammatical errors, even when you're going over the text with a fine-toothed comb. At some level, you're so used to seeing your own text that it fades into the background. I've printed out hardcopies and edited onscreen, but every round of editing would still miss important problems. The need to break out of the rut is the same.

This weekend I converted my MS from .doc to EPUB (you can do this online for free) and loaded it onto my e-reader before a long flight. As soon as I started reading I was struck by a number of things that needed to be changed or cut. Dismaying, but revelatory! There are two principles at work, I think. First, on a smallish e-ink screen, the reading experience is very different. Your paragraphs no longer stretch unnaturally to fill a letter-sized page. In my case there were minor formatting quirks (e.g. extra line breaks) that served to break things up visually and keep me from losing my critical eye. It's simply a fresh way of looking at your MS so you pick up on different things. Second, reading on a smallish e-reader is actually a lot like reading a paperback, and we're all so accustomed to reading paperbacks that anything unexpected immediately jumps out at us. Every overused word, every stray punctuation mark jumped right off the page because I subconsciously knew what it should look like.

So if you've made the plunge into the e-reader world I highly recommend you load up your WIP and give it a read-through.

Re: Revising with an e-reader

Posted: September 8th, 2010, 1:31 am
by Vio
I do this too and I give copies of my ms to my beta readers formated for their e-readers. That way it feels like a normal book to them, so they won't get distracted by the manuscript looking like, well, a manuscript. I am using Calibre ( for managing e-books, it's free and it can convert pretty much every format into any other.