One More DIY Editing Tool: Hard Copy

Image courtesy of ningmilo at FreeDigitalPhotos.netNothing beats the benefit of a good editor to point out plot holes, sagging middles and blurry character development. I wouldn’t publish without one.

I rely on three electronic tools to help me polish my manuscript, Word proofing options and fabulous websites and the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC Read Out Loud function.

Another favourite tool isn’t electronic. It’s a print copy of my manuscript. I carry around and mark it up and pass to a trusted friend or two. Plus, it’s so good to get away from my desk.

Printing Tips

To maximize paper usage and keep cost down:

In your Word document:

  • text font is Times New Roman 10
  • no page break before your chapter breaks, use bold text for a visual break
  • double-spaced to provide somewhere for you to write notes
  • margins .5″ all the way around
  • .25″ gutter to allow room for a three-hole punch
  • page numbers centered in the bottom margin
  • paper size is standard letter, 8.5″ x 11″

At your local printer:

  • paper is standard letter size, 8.5″ x 11″
  • white 20 lb bond paper
  • double-sided printing
  • black & white, no colour
  • three-hole punch

Once it’s printed, put your manuscript in a 1″ – 1.5″ three-ring binder.

How much does it cost?

Just under $25 for 200 pages at my local Staples store. Your cost may vary. Once you’ve completed the review, you’ll consider the money well spent.

Now what?

Your natural inclination is to start at the front at work your way to The End. Do that at least once.

From The End to Once Upon a Time

After you’ve done the usual, start at The End and work backwards, one scene at a scene— last scene, second-last scene, third-last scene.


To separate yourself from the flow of the story so you can wonder things like:

  • did I set this event up before it happened
  • did I motivate this action, GMC in reverse
  • is this emotion/action/reaction in character
  • can I foreshadow this event
  • have I met this character before
  • can I turn this thing into a symbol or talisman
  • is this my story theme
  • did this guy’s eyes just change colour?

You’ll be able to answer a lot of these questions very quickly from the first run-through. If you have to stop and think and page forward, then you’ve found something that needs fixing. And that’s a good thing.

What’s your favourite editing tool?

© 2017, Joan Leacott
Image courtesy of ningmilo at