Friday, December 17, 2010

Screen Reading vs Page Reading

I've reached the point in my WIP (about 35,000 words in - a little over the half-way mark) when I usually stop to think over (i.e. panic) about where my story is headed and try and figure out (i.e. panic) what next few action/plot points I need to hit to get me to my ending. Usually, when I get to this point I do one of two things: 1. Stay away from the WIP for a few weeks while I mull over (i.e. panic) over the book or 2. I print out the whole shebang - about 135 pages - and read it in one go seeing if what I've written so far makes sense and can twig an 'aha!' moment of 'This is what must happen next'.

I've tried to outline the middle of this book more than my previous books and I have been doing that (the last ten chapters or so have been outlined before I've written them) but I need to stop and remind myself now about what all has gone before to make sure I'm not losing sight of characters, motivations and small threads that might prove important in the last half of the book. And to do that I need to read it on a page. For some reason, I tend to immerse myself in a story more completely when I can turn pages - maybe flip back and forth between scenes to make connections or notice when things don't add up. When I'm reading on the screen I seem to be able to concentrate more on deep editing and honing of words and phrases but less so on overall scenes and larger themeatic revisions. For that I need that WIP to be on old-fashioned paper.

Now, I don't have an e-reader (although I am contemplating getting one) but this is not about reading a book on paper or electronic devices. It could very well be that I become a convert to reading novels on e-readers. But for me as a writer, in this particular part of the process (and once again when I've finished the first draft) I need to print it out whole and revise it on paper before I begin to revise it on the screen.

So I'm curious - do any writers NOT print out their WIP's at some point and do a page read through? I'd fear I'd miss something if I just kept it on screen. I know I read things differently when I have them in my hand. Even at the day job where I do 90 per cent of my work on a computer screen, for large documents I need to print them out and look through them the old fashioned way.

How about you? Screen reader or page reader?


  1. I do both. Once my first draft is done. I do one read through on paper. And I'll do a second one, when I feel I"m close to being done - to read it outloud.

  2. Reading my WIP on paper is crucial to me. I catch things that just don't appear for me on the screen.

  3. Hi Laura and Linda: I really hope when I print out my WIP I don't hate it. Maybe that's why it's taking me so long to do it!