At work, I’ve gotten very used to beating MS Word with a hammer so it formats documents approximately how I want them. In comparison, formatting my fiction manuscripts is like skipping through the park on a sunny day with ice cream. One font, no headings, simple header? Wonderful.
All the beating did make me aware of an MS Word feature that I’ve been meaning to apply to my writing for a while, though. My editor officially accepted book 3 (YAY) the other week, so I created a comparison between my first draft and the final draft. The only difference between that final draft and what you’ll read sometime in 2014 is some copyediting.
This is a random section in the middle of the novel. Don’t bother zooming in, I was careful to make sure the resolution won’t let you read it. Fat red is added text, thin red is strike-through deleted text, and green is when a section was transported from one place to another.
A lot of writers talk about the quirks of their “process”, and I’m delighted by the chance to illustrate mine visually. I’m fundamentally an additive writer: you’ll notice that I have a pattern of a (minorly work-tweaked) section that survived all the way from the first draft, a short deleted section, and then a longer, better added new scene. Now, there were 2-3 drafts between the two files used for the comparison, but I suspect that you’d see a similar pattern even if you compared each step individually.
Now I’m full of curiosity about other writers. How much survives from their very first draft? What do their additions and deletions look like?