I'm certain nearly everyone in this sub has at some point in their writing career halted the progression of their story because they had to stop and edit, and all for the sake of making the first draft less of an eyesore. Well that applies doubly for me, and my compulsive need to "fix as I go" held my writing back for years, so my workaround involves using a system of highlighting and various font colors for sections I need to address later.

That's really all there is to it. For the sake of specifics though, here's the color system I've come up with to make the process smooth and efficient:

Font colors

  • Red – The section is either too wordy or too sloppy and needs immediate attention once the story is finished.

  • Cyan – Sentences and/or passages pulled directly from other authors to assist me with hangups on transitions, character introductions, or general descriptions. The section will not remain in the final draft and exists only as a reference point to build from.

  • Orange – Placeholder/throwaway word. I chose to do this specifically because I'd waste far too much time brainstorming for the perfect name or the perfect synonym. With this color, I use the most basic word (sometimes something as generic as "ran" or "area 2") and note to come back when I'm finished.

  • Purple – Always in parentheses, this functions as a possible alternate outcome for the story in question, be it some other character I've thought of introducing or some other plot point I was curious about including. Plugging this in as a possibility helps me know exactly how I'm going to re-write my draft if I'm not satisfied with how it turns out.

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  • Yellow – Means the section needs more information. As an example, whenever I'm unsure as to how a character's motivations mesh with the plot or how a specific event necessarily leads to another outcome, I mark it and keep going.

  • Green – Any section that I feel has excellent execution. Sometimes I find my muse and write incredible sections, but these occurrences aren't consistent and this highlight functions to help me recall what to do during the times when writing is less of a seamless flow of thought and more like work that just needs to be taken care of.

The last method is just making brackets and plugging in information for how I want the rest of the story to proceed if I'm not able to get the majority of it done in one sitting. Too often I'd take too much time away from a story and then pretty much forget what I was trying to write, so this tackles that issue specifically.

All in all these tricks aren't unique and I'm sure someone else on this sub thought of them too, but overall they help me satisfy that editing itch without sacrificing too much time. Additionally, once the editing process starts, I can go back and know exactly what I need to change and how I need to change it, which also saves time with respect to avoiding having to brainstorm too much.

What are some other tricks that some of the chronic perfectionists here use?

Source: reddit post


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