Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Revisions on a Kindle

Technique Tuesday

I've run across the suggestion, in several different places, that when revising it can help to print your draft in a different font or on colored paper. Changing the look and feel of your manuscript helps you approach it with fresh eyes.

Some of my recent posts about the dawning digital millennium, particularly ones on Friday, may have sounded a bit curmudgeonly. So in the name of restoring balance, because I haven't heard it elsewhere, and because it's green, here's how you can do revisions on a Kindle. (I used a Kindle 3, your mileage may vary with earlier models.)

You may not have thought of an e-reader as a revision platform because it's best for going through a text sequentially. They're still not very useful if you're in the middle of early revisions and need to rearrange large chunks of text. But they shine for later revisions where you're reading for tone, consistency, and polish.

Of course, the first step is to get your manuscript on to the e-reader. With Kindle, you can email your manuscript (if it's in a supported format) to {your address}@free.kindle.com to have it automatically converted and downloaded, or use a conversion program like Mobipocket eBook Creator.

As you're reading, if you want to make a change,
  1. Using the Kindle d-pad, move the cursor to the beginning of the word or phrase
  2. Begin keying-in the note. A note panel pops up. When you finish with the note, be sure to use the d-pad to select "save note."
  3. When you reach the end of a chapter, press the MENU button and select, "View Notes & Marks"
  4. The note display will show you your note and its context.
  5. Go to your word processor and disposition each change
  6. Finally, delete the note on your Kindle.
The key is to process your changes periodically while you're reading so that you don't wind up getting lost paging through notes on the Kindle's small screen.

Of course, the key board on the Kindle isn't suitable for recomposing large blocks of text. You'll be further ahead to simply make a note, like "fix this paragraph." So, again, this is better suited for a final pass when you need to re-read the entire manuscript one more time.

That said, I was surprised at how fresh my manuscript felt as I revised with my Kindle. And it was fun to imagine the auto-flowed text was, in fact, the published version.

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. Hmmmm. I'll have to think about that one. It would be fun to read my work on my Kindle. But does it really save time? I know it's not the most environmentally friendly way, but I'm very fond of good, old-fashioned paper. I use it twice. Both sides....

    My iPad is much easier to revise on, because I can make and save the changes as I go.

    Good idea, though.

  2. Julie,

    The value I found in reading my manuscript through a final time on my Kindle wasn't the time saved--you basically have to make the change twice: once as a note on the Kindle and once again in your word processor--but rather in the freshening effect of reading in a new context.

    Editing as you go on an iPad sounds more efficient.

    I shared this idea because I assumed a Kindle would be a non-starter for revisions and was pleasantly surprised to find that it had some value.


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