I retyped both A Blue So Dark, my debut, four times before it finally sold…And I retyped Playing Hurt, my second novel, even more…probably about five or six times, before selling it…
To be fair, retyping works for me, in part, because I’m a really fast typist. Reeaaaally fast. I often retype passages (even when I’m not in the midst of a novel-wide retype) because it’s faster to type than cut and paste. (I was actually a pretty good typist even before I went to high school…I took keyboarding as a high school student basically because it was a way for me to get an “A” for study hall—I could type up my assignment in 15-20 minutes, then spend the rest of the class period on homework…)
By retype, though, I’m not simply doing secretarial work. I’m editing and revising as I go. And I don’t retype every time I revise. Only when I need to do a global revamp. Here’s why:
* It forces me to think about every single word. You’d be surprised at how forgiving you are when you’re simply re-reading. But if you have to retype, you’re really critical of every sentence. (Even a fast typist doesn’t want to spend hours retyping something that’s too wordy or unnecessary.) That makes this technique fantastic for authors who need to significantly reduce the word count on a given manuscript.
* By moving through the manuscript at a slower pace than I would if I was simply re-reading, I also have light-bulb-over-the-head moments about the order of events. After typing a chapter, I can suddenly realize I need to bring in a chapter from the back…Or take the next chapter in my manuscript out, hold it for the end. And, because I’m retyping, I add sentences to help with the flow—the reordered chapters feel more like they belong, rather than cut and pasted.
* Retyping helps reconnect with a “voice” of a book, after a long absence from a manuscript. I recently retyped my current middle grade (which is in development at Dial) in order to reconnect with a younger character and to complete the global changes my editor was after.
I’ve also found that retyping really helps to focus my mind…Sometimes, I think I’m also encouraged by the rat-a-tat of keys, the drum beat of productivity… What about you guys? Any other retyping fanatics out there?